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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline.   ST.info editor)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)
Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil. (photo: World Economic Forum)

Fracking Infrastructure? Not in My Backyard, Says Exxon CEO

By Eve Andrews, Grist

23 February 14

 

oe is Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil.

Public utility Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. has had the nerve to plan a water tower in Bartonville, Texasright next to Tillerson’s own personal horse ranch! Not only is the tower a blight on Tillerson’s very own piece of Texas forever, but it’s also going to bring all kinds of noise, traffic, and plebeians to his driveway. Oh, and one more thing – it’s also going to supply the energy companies that are quickly growing their fracking operations in the area. Included among these companies is XTO Energy, which ExxonMobil acquired in 2009.

Tillerson and his wife have brought suit against Cross Timbers to block the proposed water tower, and they’re not alone. Former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R) and his wife are the lead plaintiffs in the suit. Armey’s impressive track record includes a stint as chairman of Tea Party-affiliated FreedomWorks, a D.C.-based nonprofit committed to “helping activists fight for lower taxes, less government, and more freedom.”

The Cross Timbers case has been going on since 2012, and was recently sent back to the district court after a ruling reversal by an appellate judge, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Tillersons, Armeys, and their co-plaintiffs argue that they were promised that utility construction would not come near their homes. Cross Timbers’ position has been that, as a public utility, they can build wherever they goddamn please.

Tillerson’s primary concern seems to lie in damage to the aesthetics and privacy of the property in which, as he repeatedly reminded the audience at a Bartonville town meeting in November, he’s invested millions of hard-fracked dollars. We might focus more on the danger of water contamination that tends to accompany fracking infrastructure, for which XTO Energy currently faces criminal charges in Pennsylvania. But, hey – you do you, Rex!

UPDATE: Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) has released a statement kindly inviting Tillerson to an exciting new club:

“I would like to officially welcome Rex to the ‘Society of Citizens Really Enraged When Encircled by Drilling’ (SCREWED). This select group of everyday citizens has been fighting for years to protect their property values, the health of their local communities, and the environment. We are thrilled to have the CEO of a major international oil and gas corporation join our quickly multiplying ranks.”

Read the rest of Polis’ statement here.

 


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TODAY’S NEWS:  THIS WE POSTED JANUARY 10, 2014

A U.S. attorney has opened an investigation looking into the release of a potentially dangerous chemical into parts of West Virginia’s water supply.

Nearly 200,000 residents in nine counties have been told not to drink the water and avoid cooking with it, brushing their teeth or even taking a shower.

The spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol was found coming from a 48,000-gallon tank at a chemical storage facility about a mile upriver from the West Virginia American Water plant. The chemical is used to wash coal before it goes to market.

—————————————————–

THE NEW UPDATE – January 13, 2014:

Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill

Date: 13-Jan-14

Author: ANN MOORE of Reuters’ Planet Ark

 

Restaurants reopen with bottled water after West Virginia spill Photo: LISA HECHESKY
Water is distributed to residents at the South Charleston Community Center in Charleston, West Virginia, January 10, 2014.
Photo: LISA HECHESKY

(Reuters) – Restaurants and shops began reopening on Sunday in parts of West Virginia where the water supply was poisoned by a chemical spill, although up to 300,000 people spent a fourth day unable to use tap water for anything besides flushing toilets.

State government officials, the utility company West Virginia American Water and the National Guard continued to test the water supply after as much as 7,500 gallons (28,000 liters) of an industrial chemical leaked into the Elk River on Thursday.

It could still be several days before people in nine counties and Charleston, the state capital and largest city, can once again use the water from their faucets for drinking, cooking and bathing.

Earl Ray Tomblin, the governor of West Virginia, and other officials said at a press conference on Sunday that efforts to flush the chemical from the water supply were showing signs of progress, and that most water samples were found to be within safety limits for a second day.

But they did not specify when the drinking water ban might be lifted, instead saying they were working to create a website where residents will be able to check to see when the restriction is lifted in their area.

“Our team has been diligently testing samples from throughout the affected area, and the numbers look good,” Tomblin said. “I believe we’re at a point where we see light at the end of the tunnel.”

A dozen restaurants in Charleston had been allowed to reopen by Sunday afternoon by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department after assuring officials that they have secured a source of potable water.

“It feels very expensive,” said Keeley Steele, who bought hundreds of bottles of water in order to reopen her comfort-food restaurant, the Bluegrass Kitchen, in Charleston on Sunday. “This is all coming at such a huge cost.”

Hotels were allowed to continue operating as long as they steer clear of using tap water, although several hotel owners said they were only honoring existing reservations to reduce the expense of shipping out linens for cleaning.

Officials have so far declined to estimate the economic cost of the spill.

Frustrations, however, continue to mount, with West Virginians lamenting the toll the outage has taken on their health and personal hygiene.

“It feels like we’ve all been living on junk food these past couple days,” Josephine Ritter, a 40-year-old hairstylist, said outside a recently reopened 7-Eleven convenience store in Charleston. “You can’t cook or clean or anything. It’s just bottled water and potato chips every day.”

The emergency began last week after a spillage from a tank belonging to Freedom Industries, a Charleston company that makes chemicals for the mining, steel and cement industries, authorities said.

The spill happened about a mile upriver from a West Virginia American Water treatment plant. President Barack Obama declared it an emergency, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent dozens of tractor trailers loaded with clean water.

Water tainted by the spilled 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or Crude MCHM, smells faintly of licorice. Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin. Around 70 people had visited emergency rooms with these symptoms by Sunday, said Karen Bowling, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some 1,045 people have called the West Virginia Poison Center since the spill to say they or someone in their household had been exposed, she said.

The “vast majority” of those people reported symptoms of some kind, said Elizabeth Scharman, the poison center’s director. While there is little data on the chemical’s effect on humans, she said most symptoms were easily treated and that rashes and feelings of nausea would soon fade.

“It’s not a highly toxic chemical, it’s an irritant chemical,” she said, adding that less than 10 people had had to be admitted to a hospital. More than 60 people had also called to say their livestock or pets had been exposed.

Meanwhile, some West Virginians are anticipating a disheveled start to the new work week.

“I’m not looking forward to going back to work on Monday without a shave or shower,” said Clark Mills, a 51-year-old contractor in Charleston. He has sent his family to stay with relatives in an unaffected part of the state while he waits out the problem.

“I have a 6-month-old baby,” he said. “We can’t live like this.”

(Reporting by Ann Moore and Jonathan Kaminsky; Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh)

———————————-

 

Calls for Oversight in West Virginia Went Unheeded

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Rachel Maddow, Chris Christie. (photo: Chris Pizzello/Josh Reynolds/AP)
Rachel Maddow, Chris Christie. (photo: Chris Pizzello/Josh Reynolds/AP)

 

ome very good investigative broadcast journalism from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday night.

 

On Thursday morning, New Jersey governor and, until now, Republican presidential favorite Chris Christie gave a two-hour press conference (full transcript here) in which he expressed being “stunned” and “blindsided” Wednesday morning by the blockbuster revelations published that day by Shawn Boburg of the Bergen Record.

 

The paper’s report included email and text messages [PDF] between Christie’s deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and a number of other top appointees conspiring to shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge leading out of Fort Lee, N.J., on the first day of school last September. The messages reveal the staffers appearing to enjoying the pain the shutdown was causing the town, joking about the inconvenience to the local children of voters of Christie’s gubernatorial opponent in last November’s election, and otherwise agreeing not to respond to queries from town officials about the closures.

 

FROM -

Rachel Maddow: There Was Another Target of Bridge-Gate.

 

By Brad Friedman, Salon

 

10 January 14

 

Maddow, noticing that Kelly’s “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email was sent to Christie’s Port Authority appointee David Wildstein on Aug. 13, 7:34 a.m., wondered what else happened around that time in N.J. that might have spurred Kelly to order the lane closures on the world’s busiest bridge first thing in the morning that day?

 

Here’s Maddow’s report, finding that the evening before, Christie had unloaded on Democrats in a particularly angry press conference concerning the renomination battle of a N.J. Supreme Court judge, a battle that had been several years in the making. The woman who headed the state Senate committee causing embarrassment for Christie at the time was N.J.’s state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), who happens to represent … you guessed it … Fort Lee …

 

The points raised by Maddow are certain to raise many more questions about this entire fine mess, as if there aren’t enough already. But, for now, we’ll leave those for another day.

 

After offering her alternative theory, explained above, Maddow interviewed Weinberg about them. Here’s that interview …

 

I don’t claim to be an expert on the man. But, to be frank – having spent a fair amount of time studying Christie in advance of my 2011 exclusive revealing the secret audiotapes of the secret Koch brothers’ summit where Christie was the super-secret keynote speaker – while he can certainly be thuggish, a blowhard, and somewhat of a bully when he likes, retribution against a Democratic mayor for declining to endorse him in a landslide election seems a bit overboard, even for Christie.

 

On the other hand, retaliating against the state’s Democratic Senate Majority Leader, who he likely saw as causing him no small amount of embarrassment in the NJ Supreme Court matter, does seem more in keeping with his style. Even if he didn’t know about it (which is seeming less likely by the hour), his staff surely shared the same frustrations with Senate Democrats that Christie would have (even as he often expertly played Democrats in the state legislature like a fiddle.)

Weinberg, for that matter, led the charge in the state Senate after the Secret Koch Tapes story, to pass legislation that would keep Christie from secretly leaving the state again in the future, as he had when he appeared at the Koch Summit in Colorado.

 

Maddow’s alternative theory is smart, good reporting, might make more “sense” out of this entire matter, and is certainly worthy of further inquiry.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 3rd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

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How to Classify the Climate Change Disinformation Campaign. Ethical Distinctions Between Skepticism and Disinformation.

Skepticism in science is a good thing that should be encouraged. The philosopher Diderot said that skepticism in all things is the first step on the road to truth.  Yet the phenomenon that a growing sociological literature calls the “climate change disinformation campaign” is arguably some new kind of assault on humanity  It has been at least partially responsible for a 25 year delay in the United States for taking action on climate change. Two new papers seriously examine how to classify the climate change disinformation campaign while distinguishing this phenomenon from responsible skepticism. The papers are:

The Climate Change Disinformation Campaign: What Kind Of Crime Against Humanity, Tort, Human Rights Violation, Malfeasance, Transgression, Villainy, Or Wrongdoing Is It?


Part One: Is The Disinformation Campaign a Crime Against Humanity or A Civil Tort?

Part Two: Is The Disinformation Campaign a Human Rights Violation Or A Special Kind of Malfeasance, Transgression, Villainy, Or Wrongdoing ?
Ethicsandclimate.org solicit comments on these papers


Donald A. Brown
Scholar In Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law
Widener University School of Law
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
717-802-1009 (cell);
dabrown57@gmail.com
Ethicsandclimate.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dear Pincas,

After being invited to visit Pennsylvania by residents who have experienced the impacts of fracking, my son Sean and I decided to go see the harms of fracking up close. Our friend Susan Sarandon came with us, and we had the incredible honor of being joined by Mahatma Ghandi’s grandson, Arun Ghandi, as well.

Driving into the quaint town of Montrose, PA, I could hardly have anticipated how upsetting the next stops on our tour would be: a gas pad of four drills and a hissing pressure release, a giant compressor station under construction, large trucks full of sand and toxic chemicals rumbling down narrow dirt roads, and a drilling rig reaching to the sky.

To see such a beautiful landscape ruined was disturbing enough, but not nearly as bad as the heartbreak of meeting those whose health, homes and lives have been forever changed because of fracking: Vera Scroggins, Craig Stevens, Rebecca Roter, Frank Finan, Ray Kemble and the Manning family. They welcomed us into their homes with complete hospitality, and Tammy Manning even baked us delicious muffins.

And they told us their stories. They can no longer drink the water from their own wells because they have been poisoned by fracking pollution. These American families are suffering from suddenly not having clean water for the essentials of healthy living. They are not able to use their well water to drink, cook with, wash dishes, bathe or do laundry. They are buying water every day. Can you believe it?

They cannot move to a healthier place to raise their families because the value of their houses plummeted when the water went bad — and they cannot afford to relocate. They have to open their windows when they run the water to prevent methane gas from building up and risk explosion. It is a terrible fate, and there is no way to reverse what has happened to them. And it is outrageous that the gas companies accuse these honorable, defenseless people of lying — we saw the brown smelly water ourselves in homes right next to fracking sites. The fact that the water was nasty brown around their houses really scared me.

As we toured fracking sites in this once beautiful rural area and visited homes throughout the day, I reflected on the frightening reality that this dirty practice could soon destroy other families and homes in New York if Governor Cuomo lifts the ban on fracking.

After that tour, I have never felt more compelled to prevent others from facing the harm I saw in Pennsylvania last week. And after being followed around all day by industry representatives who yelled threats at us, I have also come to realize how much is at stake. We cannot allow people, clean water, and the health of our climate and planet to be sacrificed for the gas industry.

Will you join me in telling Governor Cuomo that he cannot open New York to fracking? We have until February 13 to let him know we will not allow the natural gas industry to destroy our communities with their devastating drilling.

Love,
Yoko Ono

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Republicans, including even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, allow themselves be led by the  Pied Pipers for the upper 1% – of the so fake Americans for Prosperity – the Koch Brothers fighting any notion of American progress, that are even more extreme then the Romney vision was, will dismantle whatever already got initiated on the front of Climate Change. Even this can be viewed as a political fight.

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Op-Ed Contributors

Northeast Faces Stark Choice on Climate Pollution.

By PETER SHATTUCK and DANIEL L. SOSLAND
Published The New York Times on-line: January 24, 2013

BOSTON

EIGHT years ago, a bipartisan coalition of Northeast and mid-Atlantic governors joined forces to reduce pollution from electric power plants. They agreed to cap overall emissions of carbon dioxide, the major pollutant driving global warming, and require the more than 200 power plants in the region to buy permits to emit the greenhouse gas.

The governors reasoned that plant operators would have an incentive to clean up their emissions if they had to pay for the carbon dioxide they discharged. Over the first three years of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, average annual emissions were indeed 23 percent less than in the previous three years, and auctions of allowances — or permits to pollute — raised $952 million, much of which has been invested in clean energy programs.

But the future effectiveness of this market-based cap-and-trade system, the first but not the only one of its kind in the nation, is now in question. The nine states in the initiative are preparing to reset the emissions cap — or the total amount of carbon dioxide that power plants can emit — and some of the proposals would allow power plants to increase the amount of carbon dioxide they dump into the atmosphere.

Cap-and-trade programs are designed to lower emissions gradually by reducing the cap and the allowances that are available. Polluters get flexibility in cutting emissions by being able to trade allowances among themselves. The idea is to achieve the reductions at the lowest cost through market forces rather than through direct regulation.

But of the four cap-adjustment proposals under consideration, three would reset the cap above current emissions and allow pollution to rise through 2020. Only a fourth option would continue to drive down pollution by resetting the cap at 91 million tons, the current emissions level, and then reducing it by another 2.5 percent a year through 2020.

Opponents of the initiative, known as R.G.G.I., argue that lower-cost natural gas has eliminated the need for the program by reducing the use of dirtier coal and oil. Growing investments in energy efficiency and renewable electricity have also helped to reduce emissions by cutting demand for electricity from power plants that burn fossil fuels.

But those developments don’t argue against R.G.G.I., which determines what electricity generators may not do — namely, discharge unlimited quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If market forces deliver emissions reductions cheaper and faster than anticipated, then states should lock in that progress with a binding cap to ensure that emissions don’t rise and that incentives for reducing pollution remain.

The proposals that would allow emissions to increase reflect the success of opponents of efforts to slow climate change, who have fought against initiatives like R.G.G.I.

Americans for Prosperity, an organization backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, has been at the forefront of this effort. The group sought unsuccessfully to repeal R.G.G.I. in Maine and New Hampshire, and A.F.P. members sued but failed to extricate New York from the initiative. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey did pull his state out of the initiative last year, arguing that low-cost natural gas made the program unnecessary.

R.G.G.I.’s economic performance tells a different story. Auctions of allowances pay for energy efficiency programs that curb power plant emissions, bring down energy prices and save consumers money. These savings flow back into the economy, increasing growth and employment in the region. An independent report published in 2011 by the Analysis Group, a consulting firm, said that electric customers would save $1.1 billion on their bills over 10 years from energy efficiency measures paid for by the sale of allowances. These savings would generate an additional $1.6 billion in economic growth, as money that otherwise would be spent on electricity generated with imported fossil fuels is instead spent in the local economy.

This initiative carries broad significance. President Obama’s reaffirmed commitment to address climate change will move forward in part through regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, and R.G.G.I. could serve as a template for other states seeking to comply with new federal requirements.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York recently committed to ensuring the program’s continuing effectiveness, and we encourage all of the participating states to make the program as strong as possible and put the public good over interests vested in the dangerous status quo of unchecked pollution.

Peter Shattuck is director of market initiatives and Daniel L. Sosland is president at ENE an environmental research and advocacy group focused on the Northeast.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

With members of the media busy setting up for the Tuesday Presidential debate, I was the only media present at the students event though it was announced in the Campus Activities section of the Commission on Presidential Debates official booklet that all media received. We must say right here that with the elections being as close as they seem to be at this point, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, has the potential of being this year’s Ralph Nader of the Republicans – the candidate that might siphon off enough votes to sink the Republicans in critical States, and hand thus a clear electoral victory to President Obama. Media ought thus to pay attention to the Libertarian Party activities and note the way they feel about these elections as expressed in the statement that the debate is still one between Coke and Pepsi and not basic enough to their liking when it comes to economic matters and questions of Liberty of the individual.

The Libertarians at Hofstra meet every every Wednesday in room 141 in the Students’ Center, this week the obvious exception, and are listed as a club – “HOFSTRA STUDENTS FOR LIBERTY.”

The group was started by three students last year, and now, in its second year,  filled the Cultural Center Theater at the Axinn Library for the John Stossel lecture and large Q&A session – listed topic: “Debt, War, Recession, The Growth of the American Government,” in which the elections as such were not mentioned but the students were presented with arguments about the self-serving growing government that interferes with the well-being of the individual who left to his own crativity would have been doing much better. The implication thus that both parties did not act in the real interest of the individual.

Lavishly, free literature was distributed. It included:

the 280 page John A. Alison, President and CEO of the Cato Institute, Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries backed publication – , “The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure – why Pure Capitalism is the World’s Only Hope” that explains how Destructive Banking Reform Is Killing the Economy;

“After the Welfare State” Students for Liberty volume edited by Tom G. Palmer and stating that Politicians stole your future – you can get it back” and from the same source – “The Morality of Capitalism – What Your Professors Won’t Tell You;”

The excellent Specially Abridged pocket book size “The Road to Serfdom” by Nobel Prize Winner Friedrich A. Hayek with an introduction by Edwin J. Feulner, President of The Heritage Foundation;

The United States Constitution and The Declaration of Independence with Foreward by Congressman Ron Pauk;

and to top it – a pocket version of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America.

The questions were all about economic issues like what do you think of a recovery? What about monopolies? And the answers were logical accepted helpful government but rejecting restricting legislation. The belief is in self correcting actions by the economy and a rejection of the dictum attributed to Tom Daschle who supposedly said – “What you can not professionalize – Federalize.”

As no mention was made directly of the debate and as one of the student organizers told me that the meeting was held in order to enlarge the some of the discussion on campus, I asked Mr. Stossel What he thinks of the debate – that is when he told me that he will vote for Gary Johnson but it is not important in new York State. Then he refused to speak any more substance to me because he wants to speak to the students – obvious voters and potential opinion builders as – do not forget – the debate this coming Tuesday will be in a Town Hall format and questions that were already vetted by moderator Candy Crowley, will come from the Nassau community including these students.

Further, at midnight – Sunday to Monday – Mr. Stossel was on Fox Business TV – in Manhattan this is Channel 44 – talking about the elections and how the form takes the place of substance. The program was impartial to the two parties in the running but critical of the system – so let’s say favorable to outsiders.

———————

Coincidentally – This morning New York Times picked up the subject of the Libertarians – though obviously without having been at last nights meeting – Excerpts from this morning New York Times:

Mr. Gary Johnson said he had no problem being labeled a potential spoiler in an election that he views as “a debate between Coke and Pepsi.”
(
He said he viewed himself as Perrier.)

“Take the issue of Medicare,” he said. “Both parties are arguing over who is going to spend more money on Medicare when we should be having a raging debate in this country over how we’re going to cut Medicare.”

He admits he has only limited finances. The Federal Election Commission had denied his request for general election matching funds, ruling that he did not meet its requirements for third-party candidates. And his campaign filings show he had roughly $50,000 in the bank at the end of August, having burned through much of the more than $350,000 or so he raised in small donations that month.

He said that his campaign had found it hard to keep up with the offers of volunteer help, and that when it came to campaigning, “I think we’re going to stick with what we’ve been doing — stay flexible and take the most advantage out of media appearances.”

Democrats say Mr. Johnson could have the biggest effect on Mr. Romney in Nevada, where a Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll in September showed Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney effectively tied.

Mr. Roger Stone, a former long time Republican operative who has Nixon tatooed on his back,  said the campaign believed it had the potential to cut into support for Mr. Romney in three of his must-win states, Florida, Ohio and Virginia — where Republican challenges to the Libertarian candidate quickly failed — as well as in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

There is very little polling on Mr. Johnson to bear all of this out, which his campaign points to as evidence that he is being unfairly ignored by the news media. However, The Miami Herald and The Tampa Bay Times have measured his support at about 1 percent — far more than the 537-vote margin that was ultimately deemed to have separated Mr. Bush from Mr. Gore in 2000.

“As we all learned in Florida, when something’s close enough, even small numbers can make a difference,” said Charlie Cook, the publisher of The Cook Political Report, which monitors electoral trends.

That appeared to be the thinking when Pennsylvania Republicans sought to go after Mr. Johnson’s petitions, which Mr. Gleason, the party chairman, suspected had been collected with help from Democrats. He noted that many of the signatures came from Democratic precincts of Philadelphia.

One petition gatherer, Tracey Norton of Germantown, said in an interview that she was a Democratic committeewoman, though she said she did not act in a partisan manner when being paid to collect petitions.

In court, the Republicans presented evidence that some petitions had been collected without the proper signatures. But some of that evidence was collected by the private detective, Reynold Selvaggio who, some of the petition workers said in interviews and testimony, flashed his F.B.I. badge “like he was law enforcement,” as one worker, Reynaldo Duncan, said in an interview.

In testimony, Mr. Selvaggio denied Libertarian lawyers’ suggestions that it was an intimidation tactic, saying his badge stated clearly that he was retired and that he said so in his interviews. The judge hearing the case, James Gardner Colins, a former president judge of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, seemed displeased.

“I have a badge that says I’m president judge,” he said, “but I don’t flash it to anyone, because I’m not president judge.”

His ruling in favor of the Libertarians came down on Wednesday.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Truth About Fracking.

By Alec Baldwin, Reader Supported News.

17 August 2012

In a recent post here, I described an event that I produced in Syracuse, New York, which brought together disparate anti-fracking groups for a screening of Josh Fox’s documentary film Gasland. As one would expect, among the readers who posted here there was a strong level of both support for the event (and any anti-fracking advocacy) and critiques of our effort, typically from gas industry functionaries or labor that supports hydraulic fracturing on behalf of jobs.

Many pro-fracking people posted attacks on Fox and his film, going so far as to state, in no uncertain terms, that his film has been widely and undeniably dismissed for lacking in accurate facts, science and history. I contacted Fox, by email, and asked him to provide me with more information to address the “deniers” who have debunked his assertions.

Josh Fox forwarded to me a detailed response that included the following links:

1- This 2009 piece from ProPublica that refers to a Garfield County, Colorado, study that contradicts certain gas industry assertions about methane in drinking water.

2- This 2011 report from Scientific American that describes significant aquifer contamination from fracking fluids in Wyoming.

3- A 2011 New York Times article that refers to the potential “first crack in the armor” of Rex Tillerson’s claims about fracking-related contamination.

4- This article from Food and Water Watch in April of 2012.

5- And this article from a March, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

I’ve got more if you want it.

I am quite certain that not many minds will be changed here. There are those who believe natural gas is abundant and readily accessible through fracking, that it will create lots of good paying jobs and will contribute to America’s energy independence.

Then there are those who believe that fracking is actually the energy industry’s most recent opportunity to do to Americans what these companies have been doing to other, economically impoverished and less politically sophisticated peoples all over the globe: to promise them some economic benefit, deliver a pittance in actual compensation, desecrate their environment and then split and leave them the bill.

Unfortunately, in this case, it’s not like Shell in Nigeria or Chevron in Ecuador. It’s here. In New York State and Pennsylvania and many other areas. And when the gas companies are done blasting and pumping and contaminating, after they’ve put the gas on the open market and sold it and the workers head home to Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, who do you think they’ll hand the bill to for the clean up of that mess? Who will be asked to provide water for cooking, cleaning and drinking for all of those affected?

Gas companies, like LNG, will make huge profits. And what will you get?

——-

# Street Level 2012-08-17 21:00

Well said. The energy industry and idiots will always deny anything said about conservation and/or contamination. Our consumption based economy punishes us for using less with higher prices.
Our local water company is wanting a huge rate increase because consumption has gone down. I can only hope that they don’t end up selling it to the energy companies for fracking, causing a shortage and forcing farmers to compete for water like they’ve had to do in some parts of the country.
# objectiveobserver1 2012-08-17 14:28

Thank you Mr. Baldwin. Isn’t is so much better to not hold political office so that you can be free to speak the Truth?! What I want to know is why does an ad for an oil and natural gas company that operates in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, keep showing up on my google page advertising Tax Free Investment in oil and gas wells? Why is that investment tax free? It’s called BreitlingOiland Gas.com. It seems so funny (in that I get a perverse pleasure in black humor) that they boast of “experience in the field since 2004″ as if 8 years experience adds up to much. Then I read an article (which disappears after 1 day) on Yahoo about the massive sink hole that just appeared suddenly in Louisiana. Their rightwing Gov. Jindal and cohorts want to blame it on the nearby abandoned salt mine and compel the salt mine company to drill a hole to investigate. Like it really makes sense to build a hole right near a massive hole. Meanwhile I learn from reading through the thousands of comments underneath that the region is “pocked with pumpers” (small exploratory wells) and I read various speculations about the likelihood that the sinkhole is related to fracking. Now finally, I am reading something logical that might resemble the Truth. If we wring the earth dry like a sponge, the earth will collapse in on itself. Fracking just helps us race ever faster to our own destruction.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 15th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Gov. Cuomo: Don’t Frack New York.

from Phil Aroneanu - 350.org organizers@350.org – August 15, 2012



Governor Andrew Cuomo is on the brink of introducing high volume hydrofracking, a dangerous new gas drilling technique, into New York State.

The Governor promised to be ‘guided by science’ when it came to fracking. He has not kept his promises.

Instead, he put a climate denier in charge of overseeing the environmental review process for fracking, and that kind of recklessness shows — the leaked version of his fracking plan would classify toxic fracking waste as ‘medical waste’, with no added staff to provide oversight of the industry (and no new taxes to pay for that oversight in the future).

Introducing new oil and gas drilling into New York will keep us dangerously addicted to fossil fuels as the world warms, and leave a toxic legacy in the Southern Tier counties that most need an economic revival led by green industry.

We must impress on Gov. Cuomo all of the risks he would take — ecological, economic and political – by giving in to big oil.

350.org Action Fund is joining an action called Don’t Frack New York in Albany on August 25th-27th to stop fracking in New York.  Our goal is to show Gov. Cuomo just how many New Yorkers stand for a frack-free future, and to pledge to him that we will begin resistance to fracking should it move forward.

The 25th and 26th there will be trainings, workshops and preparations for the next steps — then on the 27th, the action really gets started: we’ll march through the capital, and deliver our pledges of action right to the Governor’s front door.


Can you be there and help make this a historic stand against the oil and gas industry?

Click here to sign up for Don’t Frack New York in Albany - www.dontfrackny.org

Here are the details for the action and training:

WHAT: Don’t Frack New York – Pledge to resist fracking
WHEN: Monday August 27th, 11 AM.
WHERE: March begins at Hudson Riverfront Park, Albany, New York

Trainings will begin Saturday the 25th at Noon at the Albany YMCA, 616 North Pearl Street, and continue through Sunday night.

We’re entering a new phase of resistance in our movement to protect New York.  With Don’t Frack New York, we’re joining a powerful Summer of Solidarity — a summer of action in communities taking on the fossil fuel industry in new, brave ways.

50 grassroots organizations from every corner of New York are coming together to pledge to resist fracking in our state.

If Governor Cuomo permits high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing in any part of New York State, we are pledging to engage in non-violent acts of protest aimed at protecting our communities and showing the folly of more drilling on a warming planet.

We’re expecting hundreds of people to take a stand together later this month – can you be there?

Click here to join Don’t Frack NY.

Governor Cuomo has a choice: either allow fracking to split our communities and threaten our climate or create a clean energy economy that renews New York State.

With all of the creativity and energy we can muster, hopefully we can encourage him to make the right decision for our state. But we’ll need you.

——————————

SOURCES:

“Is DEC’s top regulator too close to Big Energy for comfort? Spotlight on Brad Field, head of Mineral Resources for NY” Shale Gas Review, Tuesday, July 17, 2012
tomwilber.blogspot.com/2012/07/is-decs-top-regulator-too-close-to-big.html

“Shale Gas Exclusve: Cuomo’s fracking plan takes shape” Shale Gas Review, Wednesday, August 8, 2012
tomwilber.blogspot.com/2012/08/shale-gas-exclusve-cuomos-fracking-plan.html


This email was paid for by the 350.org Action Fund, which works to empower a dynamic activist movement to fight for the solutions to the climate crisis that science and justice demand. We must use all tools at our disposal for these purposes, including efforts to influence policy and policymakers through bold and creative campaigning. Therefore, the work of the350.org Action Fund is necessary to complement the work of our affiliated organization 350.org, which works to build a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

=====================================================

There are numerous marine black shales in the US with potential to produce gas – potential for hundreds or thousands of TCF

New YorkUS Shale Gas
• From less than 1% of US production in 2000,  

shale gas now accounts for 30% of US

natural gas production.

• Marcellus first produced in 2006, today the  

Marcellus produces 4BCF/D or 6% of US

total .

• Some projections have Marcellus producing 

25% of US total in 2020

• GHG emissions in US declining, at least in  

part because old coal plants are being

replaced by new gas plants.
.  O
rganic-Rich Marine Black Shale

are the source of most

of the oil and gas produced in

the United States and are now

considered          potential

reservoirs themselves.

• The organic matter in marine 

black shales is mainly algae,

plankton, diatoms and spores

that are preserved during

deposition.

• When organic-rich shales are

buried and heated some of the

organic matter turns into oil

and some turns into gas.
Conventional Petroleum System shows oil and gas migrating from

source rock to reservoir – shales typically source rocks and seals    on more porous reservoirs. In this case the seal is the reservoir.
What May Be The Second Biggest Gas Field in the World is in

the Marcellus Shale and the Production Comes From Rocks that

Look Just Like These

Above link is to a NY State NSERDA study that clearly and easily can blind developers who see the gains and refuse to allow themselves be thwarted by environmental dangers. Will the US allow itself to be exploited as if it were a Third World Colony?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Why Climate Change Must Be Seen Essentially An Ethical Problem and What Practical Differences Follow From This.

The great importance and urgency of examining the ethical dimensions of climate change becomes obvious upon the realization that: (a) human-induced warming creates many civilization challenging ethical questions, (b) this understanding has enormous practical significance for climate change policy options including the fact that no nation or entity may justify its response to climate change on the basis of self-interest alone,  (c) a thirty-year debate about climate change policies that began in the early 1980s has been framed almost exclusively by scientific and economic arguments that have largely ignored the ethical questions, (d) an urgently needed global solution to climate change to climate change is not likely to arise and be accepted unless it is just, and (e) millions of the world’s poorest people are most likely to experience the harshest climate change impacts, and (f) there is a growing consensus among most mainstream scientists that the world is running out of time to prevent very dangerous climate change.

It should be obvious upon initial reflection that climate change is a civilization challenging ethical problem because: (a) it is some high emitting nations and individuals in some parts of the world who are putting other often very poor people in other parts of the world at great risk, (b) the potential  harms to the most vulnerable are not mere inconveniences but catastrophic threats to life and natural resources on which life depends, and (c) because of the global scope of the problem, the victims cannot petition their governments to protect them-their best hope is that high emitters of greenhouse gases will respond to their ethical responsibilities to greatly reduce their emissions.

Although is should be obvious that climate change is a civilization ethical problem, it has not been debated as such. In a new book to published in October, this author reviews a thirty-year climate change debate in the United States. (Brown, 2012) This historical analysis reveals that, for the most part, the three decade old US  climate debate has been exclusively about scientific and economic issues that have both ignored and hidden important ethical questions. The press and even some of the NGOs participating in the debate that have supported action on climate have completely ignored the ethical issues that should have been seen by the nature of the issues being debated and if acknowledged would have transformed how the debate was structured.

The deeper the understanding of the scientific issues raised by climate change such as what amount of warming will likely trigger catastrophic climate changes, the more obvious it becomes that climate change is a moral issue. In other words, scientific sophistication about climate change deepens one’s understanding of the ethical dimensions of climate change.

A new article by Bill McKibben is a must read in this regard for US citizens who are working to turn up the volume on the ethical dimensions of climate change. It is: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is

This article will greatly enhance both any reader’s sense of the urgency of the need to respond to climate change and their  understanding of why global warming must be understood  essentially as an ethical problem. This article also points to a deeper ethical condemnation of the forces opposing climate change policies, a matter recently discussed in several prior posts on EthicsandClimate.org under the category of “climate change disinformation” and “crime against humanity.”

References:

Brown, D. (2012) Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm, Climate Ethics, forthcoming October 2012, Routledge, EarthScan.

By:

Donald A. Brown,

Scholar In Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law, Widener University School of Law.

========================================================================

New Book Describes Ways To Accelerate US Transition To Sustainability-Including A Greater Emphasis On Ethics.

As the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro in June in an attempt to make global course corrections needed to move the world to sustainable future, a new book was published that rigorously examines what has happened and failed to happen on sustainability in the United States. In Acting As If Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability, Professor John Dernbach, with the input from 51 contributing authors, including this author, after looking closely at US sustainability successes and failures, deduces from this experience a strategy to rapidly improve US sustainability performance. (Dernbach et al, 2012)

The idea of sustainable development was placed on the front burner internationally at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. As most educated citizens know, this concept called for the integration of economic, environmental, and social justice goals in policy formation and human practices at international, national, regional, and local scales around the world. The idea of sustainable development was a positive step forward in human history because humans frequently have pursued either economic, environmental, or social goals individually in isolation from each other. That is, for instance, governments at all scales have frequently pursued economic development without regard to how new economic activity might affect the environment or social justice. The great wisdom of the concept of sustainable development is this insight that pursuit of economic, environmental, or social justice goals in isolation from each other will likely have adverse impacts on the goals not considered.

Acting As If Tomorrow Matters rigorously describes what has happened or failed to happen in the United States in the 20 years since the idea of sustainability got widespread international attention at Rio. To seriously examine what needs to be done to move the world on a sustainability path there is no shortcut to a thorough, ambitious, and rigorous analysis of what has happened and failed to happen. This is particularly true of a concept like sustainable development that creates immense policy challenges because of the ambitiousness of this idea’s scope. And so, if one wants to know what has happened on sustainability, there is no escaping the need to go deep on matters that are both wide ranging and complex and that have been unfolding for 20 years.

Because of the sheer complexity of the idea of sustainable development any serious analysis of progress must rely on experts and analysis beyond the disciplinary kens of most individual human beings. One of the most significant contributions of this new book is to make even veteran sustainability watchers aware of sustainability developments in areas that they have not been following. No one person can be an expert on even the major developments in environmental protection, economic development, and human flourishing. There is simply too much to follow. And so, another virtue of this book is that Professor Dernbach has obtained the cooperation of 51 renowned experts to compile the synthesis of US sustainability successes and failures.

This new book examines progress in such diverse policy subjects as: (a) links between environmental protection and public health outcomes, (b) relationships between consumption and population, (c) connections between poverty and unemployment, (d) links between the built environment and sustainability outcomes, (e) national, regional, and local governments successes on sustainability, and (f)  achievements in sustainability education, just to name a few.

Even sustainability experts, including myself, who  have been deeply been immersed in sustainable development issues since the Earth Summit in 1992 will learn from this book about sustainability progress and failures of which they were unaware .  Therefore, perhaps the greatest contribution of this new book is to make those working to make sustainability a reality aware for the first time of achievements, failures, and case studies relevant to sustainability’s future progress. I, for instance was unaware of many sustainability developments discussed in this book such as: (a) the fact that some US states now require that climate change impacts be described in any environmental impact study, (b) the impressive number of programs or projects on sustainability at the local government level in the United States, (c) that 1000 US mayors have joined a mayors’ climate change prevention program, and (d) that the city of Chicago has over 400 green roofs.  And so even the most experienced sustainability expert will get ideas from this book about how to improve the US sustainability performance.

Acting As If Tomorrow Matters not only describes progress on sustainability, it makes it clear that US performance on many sustainability issues has been a dismal failure on some matters. In fact, another virtue of this book is that in describing obstacles to sustainability it does not pull punches. The book makes clear that despite modest success on some sustainability issues, the US has failed to adequately implement the concept because of some persistent obstacles that have been blocking US progress. In this regard, the book discusses the following barriers to US progress: habits, lack of urgency, confusion about sustainability options, unsupportive law and governance, and perhaps most importantly strong political opposition to sustainability policy proposals.

The book also makes recommendations on how to overcome these obstacles including developing better sustainability choices, improving law for sustainability, and perhaps most importantly, the need for a new sustainability social movement.

Woven throughout the book are implicit and express claims that sustainable development must be understood essentially as an ethical and moral matter because what is at stake is the very future of the quality of life on earth. Sprinkled throughout the book are references to morality and ethics including discussions of  religious and moral leaders who have been provoking wider public discussion of the ethical dimensions of sustainability.   This inclusion of ethics in what is otherwise a policy book makes it unique among serious analyses of sustainability achievements and failures.

The importance of seeing sustainability problems as ethical matters becomes apparent when one considers the comments of some observers that have criticized the very idea of sustainable development because there is no precise definition of the idea that would allow for its unambiguous implementation when there are conflicts between environmental, economic, and social goals. Yet this is where ethics and morality become so very important.

In this regard, one minor suggestion for improvement of the conclusions in this excellent book is to call for even greater acknowledgement of the need to stress the importance of the ethical dimensions of sustainability. This is so because the implementation of the concept of sustainable development needs to look to other ethical principles to resolve conflicts among environmental, economic and social goals.  For instance:

  • During a 30 year debate about climate change policy action the United States’ opponents of domestic legislative action have objected on the grounds that new climate change policies will unacceptably increase costs to some industries, reduce US GDP,  or make US industry non-competitive compared to other global players. Yet these arguments completely ignore US ethical obligations to the victims of climate change to refrain from harming them, creating human rights violations, or destroying ecological systems on which life depends. To resolve conflicts between increased economic costs of climate change policies and protection of the most vulnerable, ethical principles need to be consulted.
  • When questions of scientific uncertainty have arisen in opposition to sustainability policymaking ethical considerations about who should have the burden of proof and what quantity of proof should satisfy the burden of proof need to be considered. Yet policy debates have almost always ignored these ethical questions about scientific uncertainty that policy-makers must face in decision-making.
  • Cost-benefit analyses of sustainability programs almost always ignore questions of distributive and procedural justice that are particularly important for poor, vulnerable people around the world. Ethics demands that these justice issues be considered in policy-making.

And so, in some controversial sustainability matters, ethical considerations have been the key missing element in policy disputes. For this reason, applied ethical analyses should be at the tip of the spear of the new sustainability social movement called for in this book.  Any sustainability social movement should follow actual concrete sustainability issues to identify the ethical issues that need to be considered to move forward on the sustainability path.

And so Acting As If Tomorrow Matters makes a significant contribution to moving the United States forward on the path toward sustainable development. Following perhaps the key recommendation in this book, interested sustainability advocates should work together to create a new social movement on sustainability armed with what we can learn from the sustainability successes and failures discussed in this book.

Those interested in the book can find more information at the book’s website:www.actingasiftomorrowmatters.com/

References:

Dernbach, J. (2012) Acting As If Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability, Environmental Law Institute Press, Washington, D.C.

By:

Donald A. Brown,

Scholar in Residence, Sustainability Ethics and Law

Widener University School of Law

dabrown@mail.widener.edu.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A few seats are left on the bus! Please rsvp to Aliya ataliya.quraishi@gmail.com and BE SURE to RSVP here to reserve your spot by Thursday morning, 7/26. Please also note: the new departure time is 8:30 AM. Thank you!

**

This Saturday, July 28th marks an important milestone–only 100 days left until Election Day, November 6th.

If you’re ready to swing into action, join us on our first-ever Greater NYC for Change trip to Philly. We’ll be teaming up with Chelsea/West Village for Change and New York Obama for America teams to help re-elect President Obama and Democrats up and down the ticket in this key swing state and central campaign city!


Canvassing in Philadelphia

Logistics: Buses will leave from OFA HQ at 520 EIGHTH AVENUE (between 36th and 37th Streets). Boarding starts at 8 AM and buses depart promptly at 8:30AM, returning to the same location around 7:30 to 8 PM.

Area: Canvassing will take place largely in South Philly and Center City East, which contains Chinatown as well as key constituencies for the President. If you have language abilities that might be helpful, make them known at the email address below. We’ll be registering voters, helping them deal with Pennsylvania’s new photo ID law, and reaching out to undecided voters. Full training is supplied on the bus.

RSVP: Email Aliya at aliya.quraishi@gmail.com and BE SURE to RSVP here to reserve your place. Book by Thursday night, July 26th since seats on the bus sell out fast. Please bring $10 to help defray the cost of the roundtrip fare, and wear comfortable shoes.

You’ll certainly find yourself discussing the new photo ID laws that many Republican-governed states have imposed, making it difficult (but not impossible!) for minorities, the elderly, and college students, in particular, to vote in this year’s election. Pennsylvania’s law happens to be among the most onerous. Here’s some helpful information.

See you on the bus, and thanks for all you do!

Aliya & the Greater NYC for Change team

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 30th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE NEW YORK TIMES QUOTATION OF THE DAY – May 30, 2012 – The Traditional Memorial Day.
“You cannot wave the white flag and let the environmentalists and regulators declare victory here in the heart of coal country.”
ROCKY ADKINS, state representative from Kentucky, in response to a plan for one of the state’s largest power plants to switch from coal to natural gas.
———
THE ENERGY RUSH

Even in Coal Country, the Fight for an Industry

By ERIC LIPTON

With the coal industry under siege across the country, an announcement that the operator of the Big Sandy power plant near Louisa, Ky., planned to switch to natural gas prompted an uproar.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

DID YOU KNOW … THE FIRST CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY REPORT WAS WRITTEN ABOUT 20 YEARS AGO?
TODAY, COMPANIES FROM COCA-COLA CO. TO THE DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY, HAVE CHIEF SUSTAINABILITY OFFICERS.

The School of Sustainability and the Environment at Chatham University. Artist rendering of Chatham University's future Eden Hall Campuswww.chatham.edu/sustainabilitymaster/

What does sustainability mean to you? Protecting natural resources? Moving beyond fossil fuels? Green jobs? Running a successful business using ethical and socially responsible practices for your customers, employees and shareholders?

Request Information

Sustainability has increasingly become the driving force for thousands of new jobs. In fact, you can read almost daily what executive recruiters, business think tanks and industry chiefs are saying about the exciting growth in this discipline. The people who secure these jobs have made smart decisions by expanding their education and experience. They have become the leaders of tomorrow. Now, you can too.

With Chatham University’s Master of Sustainability through our School of Sustainability and the Environment, you’ll learn to identify and find solutions to real-world sustainability challenges.

  • We’ll give you a second-to-none, transdisciplinary education.
  • You can explore flexible focus areas and integrated degree opportunities through a variety of other Chatham graduate programs.
  • We have a diverse, knowledgeable and enthusiastic faculty to guide you through our program.
  • You have access to placement experiences preparing you for future careers in a variety of sectors, along with research training for students wishing to go on to doctoral programs.
  • There’s a bonus. You will be working in a “living laboratory” and will play a very important part in shaping the future of the country’s first Zero Net energy campus built from the ground up. How’s that for something to add to your résumé?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 9th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Der Standard of Austria of April 4, 2012, continues a stream of information about Shale-Gas development North of Vienna – in the Wein-gardens of Poysdorf.

WEINVIERTEL –  Kein Ende im Schiefergas-Krieg.

by ROSA WINKLER-HERMADEN, 04. April 2012

Geheime Bohrungen, gefährliches Fracking und ein Landeschef im Vorwahlkampf: Warum die Bürger dem Frieden mit der OMV nicht trauen.

please see the full April 4, 2012 article at -

derstandard.at/1332323983885/Weinviertel-Kein-Ende-im-Schiefergas-Krieg

The original article was of   December 17, 2011, and we posted it following a meeting of Eurosolar Austria.

=================================================

(c) DiePresse

vergrößern (means enlarge the map)

Bedeutung der „Bruderschaft“ nimmt ab.

——

Like all the rest of Europe, Austria switched from oil to natural gas. This is a less polluting energy carrier and emits less CO2, but then – where do you buy the gas?

From the Netherlands – that is OK, or what about North Africa, Russia, Central Asia, and that means dependence on sources that may be friendly today but may use political pressure tomorrow?  The import of the gas via pipelines or huge boats of liquefied gas, means also serious outflow of Euro, dollars, or whatever National currency you have – not very good at times of budding recession.

Further – bringing the gas in by ship requires the building of high pressure unloading stations that people do not consider safe in their backyards;  pipelines depend very much on the countries in transit, and a dispute relations of the Ukraine and the Russian Federation had serious impact on the gas supplied to the European Union.  The Austrian OEMV got involved in plans for the Nabucco pipeline from Central Asia via Turkey to Austria, and found that Russia will retaliate by directing the planned South Stream pipeline not to touch Austrian land. The recent announcement by OEMV of huge finds of Shale-gas, just North North-East of  Vienna, must be viewed in above context.

A small, integrated oil-shale operation has been conducted at Puertollano since about 1922 by a French company, Sociedad Mimora y Metalurgica de Penarroya, hereinafter referred to as “Penarroya”, but only during WWII have the potentialities of the Spanish oil-shale deposits been recognized.

Empresa Nacional “Calvo Sotelo” do Combustibles y Lubricantes, hereinafter designated as “Calvo Sotelo,” which was created in 1942 by the National Industrial Institute of Spain to produce liquid fuels from oil shales, has made marked progress in the design and construction of a complete oil-shale plant at Puertollano. Penarroya is mainly a coal-mining company, and the oil-shale operations were on a small scale of approximately 220 tons a day in October 1947. It is an integrated operation comprising oil-shale mining and retorting and shale-oil refining. Motor gasoline, Diesel fuel oil, light burner fuel oil, lubricants, paraffin wax, cresols, and ammonium sulfate were manufactured.

The problem is in the nature of the finding. Shale is a stone – it contains hydrocarbons in a polymeric form called Kerogen. When heated in a retort the kerogen breaks down and yields oil and gas. In 1959 I watched this being done in above-ground retorts at the Puertollano plant, the Ciudad Real region of Spain. The governmental Calvo Sotelo company was doing this with lubricants as the prized product. The plant was planned still during WWII by the Franco government, and became a reality only after the war with the help of French engineering companies. The original idea was to produce liquid fuels as a substitute for the petroleum that was hard to obtain during the war years. The Puertollano plant was dismantled, and sold for scrap metal in 1968, as by then Petroleum was cheap and plentiful on the global market. With the first energy constraint of 1972-1973 there was general interest in oil-shales but the  Spanish experience was history by that time.  Brazil picked up with a company called Petrosix,  and in the US The Oil Shale Corporation was formed, with competition from Paraho, The Occidental Company, and Exxon.


The Brazilian Oil Company Petrobras started oil shale processing activities in 1953 by developing Petrosix technology for extracting oil from oil shale of the Irati formation.
A 5.5 metres (18 ft) inside diameter semi-works retort (the Irati Profile Plant) with capacity of 2,400 tons per day, was brought on line in 1972, and began limited commercial operation in 1980. The first retort that used the Petrosix technology was a 0.2 meters (0.7 ft) internal diameter retort pilot plant started in 1982. It was followed by a 2 metres (6.6 ft) retort demonstration plant in 1984. A 11 meters (36 ft) retort was brought into service in December 1991, and commercial production started in 1992. At present, the company operates two retorts which process 8,500 tons of oil shale daily.

The Petrosix 11 metres (36 ft) vertical shaft retort is the world’s largest operational surface oil shale pyrolysis reactor. It was designed by Cameron Engineers of the US. The retort has the upper pyrolysis section and lower shale coke cooling section. The retort capacity is 6,200 tons of oil shale per day, and it yields a nominal daily output of 3,870 barrels of shale oil (i.e., 550 tons of oil, approximately 1 ton of oil per 11 tons of shale), as well as 132 tons of oil shale gas, 50 tons of liquefied oil shale gas, and 82 tons of sulfur.

Petrosix – as per Qian, Jialin, Wang Jianqiu (2006-11-07) – he said at the “World oil shale retorting technologies” (PDF) - International Oil Shale Conference. AmmanJordan by Jordanian Natural Resources Authority –  it is one of five technologies of shale oil extraction, which is currently in commercial use.

It is an above-ground retorting technology, which uses externally generated hot gas for the oil shale pyrolysis (decomposition by heat). After mining, the shale is transported by trucks to a crusher and screens, where it is reduced to particles (lump shale). These particles are between 12 millimetres (0.5 in) and 75 millimetres (3.0 in) and have an approximately parallelepipedic shape. These particles are transported on a belt to a vertical cylindrical vessel, where the shale is heated up to about 500 °C (932 °F) for pyrolysis. Oil shale enters through the top of the retort while hot gases are injected into the middle of the retort. The oil shale is heated by the gases as it moves down. As a result, the kerogen in the shale decomposes to yield oil vapor and more gas. Cold gas is injected into the bottom of the retort to cool and recover heat from the spent shale.

Cooled spent shale is discharged through a water seal with drag conveyor below the retort. Oil mist and cooled gases are removed through the top of the retort and enter a wet electrostatic precipitator where the oil droplets are coalesced and collected. The gas from the precipitator is compressed and split into three parts.

One part of the compressed retort gas is heated in a furnace to 600 °C (1,112 °F) and recirculated back to the middle of the retort for heating and pyrolyzing the oil shale, and another part is circulated cold into the bottom of the retort, where it cools down the spent shale, heats up itself, and ascends into the pyrolysis section as a supplementary heat source for heating the oil shale. The third part undergoes further cooling for light oil (naphtha) and water removal and then sent to the gas treatment unit, where fuel gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are produced and sulfur recovered. Above tells us that this above ground retorting of the shale is done so that oil is the outcome and the by-product gasses are used to provide the energy for the process. One major problem is what to do with the heavy metals rich spent shale that cannot be discarded without damaging neighboring undergound water or rivers.

One further drawback of this process is that the potential heat from the combustion of the char contained in the shale is not utilized.  Also, oil shale particles smaller than 12 millimetres (0.5 in) can not be processed in the Petrosix retort. These fines may account for 10 to 30 per cent of the crushed feed. The above process was similar to the process used by the Spanish Calvo Sotelo company at Puertollano, and the Oil Shale Corporation method used in Colorado. A TOSCO II system, the reworked US Oil Shale Corporation technology, used a rotating drum and Alumina balls in the retort and the  spent shale is transferred to a furnace where residue-carbon is burned off to provide reheating of the balls.
The main advantages of the Tosco system are the relatively high throughput rates achieved inproportion to the size of equipment, and the production of high-BTU off-gas since there is no dilution thereof by combustion products. However, one serious disadvantage of the Tosco process has been just how to separate the alumina bals lfrom the spent shale.

As a result of the 1972-1973 energy crisis, the United States got interested in oil shales as a strategic fuel and I found myself involved first with TOSCO, then with the Hudson Institute in formulating what became the only Energy Policy the US ever had – that was the government funded “THE SYNFUELS CORPORATION” which allowed private companies to try to develop commercial technologies. Needles to say – the money was spent by the oil companies but no tangible results were returned to the government.

{My last involvement with oil shale technology was when I was contracted to write the issue paper on the use of shales for the 1981 UN Conference on NEW and RENEWABLE SOURCES OF ENERGY at Nairobi. Oil Shales, coal liquids and gases were the “NEW” sources of Energy at the UN – The Canadian tar sands and Venezuela’s heavy crudes were not part of the conference discussions.}

Wikipedia posted: “The Synthetic Fuels Corporation was a U.S. government-funded corporation established in 1980 by the Synthetic Fuels Corporation Act to create a financial bridge for the development and construction of commercial synthetic fuel manufacturing plants (such as coal gasification) that would produce alternatives to imported fossil fuels. The Great Plains coal gasification plant in Beulah, ND, still producing natural gas and sequestering carbon in 2009 , was built with the support of the Department of Energy and applied for further support by this corporation, partly as a result of efforts by Reagan’s Energy Secretary James B. Edwards. The corporation was abolished in 1985.

Oil Shales were part of these sponsored corporations as promoted during the Gerald Ford Presidency 1974-1977. The 1980 – “the Synthetic Fuels Corporation Act” was then passed under President Carter and eventually killed under President Reagan. Whatever the policy – it was still a pro-petroleum policy.

The Colony Shale Oil Project was an oil shale development project at the Piceance Basin near Parachute CreekColorado. The project consisted of an oil shale mine and pilot-scale shale oil plant, which used the TOSCO II retorting technology, developed by Tosco Corporation. Over time the project was developed by a consortium of different companies until it was terminated by Exxon on 2 May 1982 a day which is known amongst locals as “Black Sunday”.

Shale Oil History at Parachute Creek, Colorado:

The project started in 1964 when Tosco, Standard Oil of Ohio, and Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company formed the Colony Development joint venture.[4] The aim of the newly formed joint venture was to develop the Colony Oil Shale Project and to commercialize the TOSCO II technology. Starting in 1965 the consortium operated a shale oil pilot plant and in 1968 the Colony Development started preparatons to build a commercial-scale plant.[5]

In 1969 Atlantic Richfield Company joined the project acquiring part of Tosco’s stake.[5][6] However the commercial project was delayed by economic uncertainties and then resurrected in the 1970s after the Arab oil embargo. In 1972 the consortium stopped the pilot plant and the development of the commercial plant was suspended in November 1974 when more detailed economic studies indicated a more than three times higher cost than previously anticipated.[4][5][7][8]

In 1974 Ashland Oil and Shell Oil Company joined the project.[7][9] In the late 1970s Standard Oil of Ohio, Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company, Shell and Ashaland Oil sold their shares to Atlantic Richfield Company.[7][10][11] As a result of these transactions Tosco owned 40% of shares and Atlantic Richfield Company owned 60% of shares in the project.

In 1980 Atlantic Richfield Company sold its share to Exxon for $300 million.[6] In 1981 the Colony Development started a construction of the commercial scale shale oil plant.[3] On 2 May 1982 Exxon announced the termination of the project because of low oil-prices and increased expenses laying off more than 2,000 workers resulting in the date becoming known among locals as “Black Sunday”.[1][2][3] According to the shareholders agreement in a case of project termination Exxon had an obligation to buy out Tosco’s shares. It paid $380 million worth of compensation.[6]

During its existence the project produced 270 thousand barrels (43×103 m3) of shale oil.[4]

I felt obliged to talk first about the above-ground retorting of the oil-shale as this taught us about problems that will occur OUT-OF-SIGHT if one works underground as well.
The dislodgement of heavy metal compounds and the poisoning of water resources is to be expected – no surprise thereof.

Others, like the Schlumberger Corporation started to eye the Shale Gas & Liquids production in situ – thus avoiding the mess above-ground that made for easy criticism. But doing it underground – who will see that? The idea was – in situ retorting that involves heating the oil shale while it is still underground, and then pumping the resulting liquid to the surface.

To the Americans it sounded at first like a great idea: While oil shale is found in many places worldwide, by far the largest deposits in the world are found in the United States in the Green River Formation, which covers portions of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming. Estimates of the oil resource in place within the Green River Formation range from 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels. Not all resources in place are recoverable; however, even a moderate estimate of800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from oil shale in the Green River Formation is three times greater than the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Present U.S. demand for petroleum products is about 20 million barrels per day. If oil shale could be used to meet a quarter of that demand, the estimated 800 billion barrels of recoverable oil from the Green River Formation would last for more than 400 years. In theory – for those pushing for the continuation on the dependence on an oil economy – this was a great idea. In practice it did not work – this because despite the great fires underground only very little oil came out above ground – and those were still the days that the industry was looking for oil and was not interested in developing sources of gas that had the potential to compete with their oil refineries.

For those interested in more about the US search for new feeds to the petroleum refinery – here a link to a RAND Corporation study:  http://ostseis.anl.gov/guide/oilshale/

But things change and the US has learned to use gas – this by learning it from the European experience.

So, now gas is in demand and gas can be obtained from these underground shales with us not seeing how it is done – and that is very important to realize!

WE DO NOT HEAR THUS OF SHALE OIL BUT OF SHALE GAS. WE DO NOT HEAR OF RETORTING BUT OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING – FRACKING – IN EFFECT WE HEAR OF ROSY FUTURES BUT DO NOT HEAR HOW THIS IS ATTAINED.

THE PRESS IS FULL WITH ARTICLES ABOUT GAS COMING OUT WITH DRINKING WATER – SO YOU CAN LIGHT A FIRE WITH YOUR CIGARETTE LIGHTER APPLIED TO YOUR HOME DRINKING WATER TAP. WE HEAR OF CHEMICALS COMING OUT WITH THAT WATER – BUT WE DO NOT HEAR WHAT IS PUT IN WITH THE INFLOW TO THE THIS GAS MINING PIPE. WE HEAR ONLY OF THE OUTFLOW – THUS WE HAVE NO UNDERSTANDING OF THE UNDERGROUND PROCESS – IS IT HYDRAULIC, CHEMICAL, or THERMAL?

The US IS FULL WITH THE SO CALLED FRACKING TECHNOLOGY TO RELEASE GAS FROM SHALE, AND NOW IT SEEMS AUSTRIA IS LUCKY AS WELL – GAS WAS FOUND!

======================================

OMV findet riesiges Gasfeld in Niederösterreich.

Gas für mehr als 30 Jahre: Im Norden von Niederösterreich sollen gewaltige Erdgasmengen schlummern. Die OMV sucht nach Wegen, sie zu fördern.

The KURIER, LETZTES UPDATE AM 05.12.2011.

Poysdorf ist vor allem durch seine Weine – insbesondere den DAC – bekannt. Die Stadt im nö. Weinviertel könnte demnächst aber schon ein ganz anderes Image bekommen: Denn die OMV AG will rund um die Weinstadt Gas fördern. Nicht konventionelles Erdgas, sondern Shale-Gas, deutsch: Schiefergas. Dabei handelt es sich um natürliches Erdgas, das in Tonsteinen entsteht und gespeichert wird. Seine Gewinnung ist technologisch sehr anspruchsvoll, aber durch die steigenden Gaspreise zunehmend rentabel.

Das Gasvorkommen soll dort derart groß sein, dass der österreichische Inlandsbedarf auf lange Zeit – Insider sprechen von 30 Jahren und mehr – zu 100 Prozent abgedeckt werden könnte.

“Ja, das Shale-Gas-Vorkommen wird dort als sehr mächtig eingeschätzt. Bis wir aber so weit sind, dass wir das Gas auch fördern können, dauert es noch einige Jahre. Abgesehen davon muss die Förderung sowohl technisch möglich als auch wirtschaftlich sein”, bestätigte am Dienstag eine OMV-Sprecherin.

vergrößern (enlagement)

Bedeutung der „Bruderschaft“ nimmt ab.

The OEMV company, intends to start first drilling experiments at Poysdorf and Herrnbaumgarten already February 2012 and aims at commercial production by 2014. The two mayors of the above named locations seem to go along with these plans and expect windfall of profits from the oil company.

The way OEMV has explained the project to the local people it says that the fracking process is a hydraulic pressure attack against walls of shale that stand between us and pockets of gas which they call shale gas rather then Natural Gas. I wonder if anyone has asked the oil people to explain the difference in clear terms. They also say that chemicals are needed in order to avoid biological processes that lead to the closing up of the pipes and state that they will not use pesticide chemicals but natural means. This is not clear to us and we wonder what other events will occur undergroup besides the application of pressure in mechanical ways. What chemical reactions, or thermal reactions, are intended and what organic chemicals and heavy metals are expected to be found in the returning water and in the effluents that will reach the underground water.

It seems that Poland, Germany, and France were also looking at production of shale-gas, but while in Poland there is high enthusiasm by a people that are struggling to disengage themselves from the dependence on Russian gas – a highly inflamed political and economic issue, in France the government has decided not to proceed to extract the gas. The protest from an environmentally conscious population  led to this stand by the government.

The gas production in Austria is intended at above two locations in the Wine-Quarter (Vineviertel) outside Vienna with some of the local people, led by local officials of the Green Party, state that the region lives from tourism, Wine, and ambiance and if known as the Gas-Quarter (Gasviertel) all this will be lost.

December 2 and 3, 2011 papers printed the news of a press conference in the Vine-Quarter as in:

diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/economist/713891/Schiefergas-fuer-30-Jahre-OMV-will-nur-oekologisch-foerdern

diepresse.com/home/wirtschaft/international/717100/Der-Gasstrategie-der-OMV-droht-ein-herber-Rueckschlag

kurier.at/wirtschaft/4460260-die-omv-gibt-schiefer-gas.php

kurier.at/wirtschaft/4317428-omv-findet-riesiges-gasfeld-in-niederoesterreich.php

and today – December 17, 2011, the Wiener Zeitung had another series of three articles on the subject – both as related to Austria and Poland.

www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/wirtschaft/oesterreich/419491_Es-heisst-ja-schliesslich-Weinviertel-und-nicht-Gasviertel.html

“It is, after all, wine district and not gas-quarters” - By Christian Roesner

  • Poysdorf and Mr. Baumgarten will take place in 2012 drilling.

It also mentions that Fritz Gall, head of Nonmuseums in  Baumgarten: said “Fossil energy is not the official line of Austria in terms of energy policy.” Gall is about to establish a platform and invite independent experts to the local population to offer also other perspectives than those of OMV.


 www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/…

Ein Totenkopf gegen das Aufreißen: Frankreich gilt nach Polen als das Land mit dem höchsten Schiefergasvorkommen in Europa. Doch nach vielen Demonstrationen hat Paris im Sommer den Abbau von Schiefergas mittels hydraulischem Fracturing verboten.

Ein Totenkopf gegen das Aufreißen: Frankreich gilt nach Polen als das Land mit dem höchsten Schiefergasvorkommen in Europa. Doch nach vielen Demonstrationen hat Paris im Sommer den Abbau von Schiefergas mittels hydraulischem Fracturing verboten.

Huge shale gas reserves make Poland independent from Russia

Freedom, equality, gas

  • The price could be high for environmental damage.
  • Shale gas is the so-called “Game Changer” for Europe?

———-
 www.wienerzeitung.at/nachrichten/…

Drill deep cracks in the earth  - but only for 80 years.

By Eva Stanzl

  • Shale gas would quadruple natural gas deposits in Europe or tripled.
——–
People do worry about the effects of the gas production on the environment and things get worse when groups like EUROSOLAR Austria, get angree at this because they believe that there is no need to follow the dictum of the oil industry in order to stay dependent on oil and gas when renewable energy is possible and the sun is a main supplier.

Why let OEMV spend 130 million Euro, to just start these experimental drillings when the government provides only for 50 million Euro for the safer whole renewable energy yearly allowance? Investing in Renewables seems rather a safer way of detaching from fossil fuels – even in economic terms – not just environmental.
Thursday December 15, 2011, The monthly discussion table of the Vienna EUROSOLAR group had the time dedicated to Shale Gas – this being an exception as the group deals with renewables. This exception was obviously prompted by the worries that the shale gas project could derail the interest in renewables by creating in the minds of some of the people that this false saviour could answer the need for more energy independence – as it is felt seemingly in Poland.
Ing. Herbert Eberhart brought along the GASLAND documentary of the International WOW Company that showed the effects of shale oil production in the US.
The film talks about the Green River shale area in Wyoming, the old area of the attempt to produce Shale Oil, and moves to the Chesapeake area, to Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale up to New York State and the endangered Croton River water system that supplies the New York City water. We lean about the Cabot Oil & Gas Company and Halliburton – the company that was under the leadership of Vice President Dick Cheney.  Under Mr. Cheney’s days at the White House laws were changed and Federal Lands in the West opened to exploitation for oil and gas by private companies. It turned out that things were as in a song that said: “YOUR LAND – MY LAND – GASLAND” – and people were left in unhealthy conditions because of the effects of this drilling for gas.
What attracted my attention was a hearing in US Congress where the gas producing companies refused to divulge the chemicals they were using in those pipes and personally I was left with the uncertainty that perhaps we do not even know what actually is being done underground. The analysis of water from the home taps in the area of production shows the presence of some 596 chemicals including Naphthalene, Methyl Pyridine etc. –  as these are probably not chemicals used as inputs – it means they are results of breakdown of the Kerogene – thus reminding me of the spent shale from above ground retorting and this is an old NO! NO!
Important to note that the same companies working in the US are now lining up to work also in Europe – and Poland was their port of entree. Will Halliburton be as well the technological outfit that will be used by the Austrian OEMV?
From the Financial Times of December 17, 2011, we learn:

“The recent revelation that PetroChina successfully extracted natural gas from shale formations in China’s Sichuan Basin has confirmed the commercial viability of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, in the country. The news also confirmed the major export opportunity that has emerged for the growing number of American companies that produce the array of equipment, chemicals and technologies that will be needed to exploit China’s vast shale gas reserves. At an estimated 1,275 trillion cubic feet, these reserves comprise the world’s largest source.”

“Chinese shale gas developments herald major US industrial export opportunities,” and “the companies with the know how are the American companies - oil field service majors like Baker Hughes, Halliburton, and National Oilwell Varco as well as ITT’s water treatment spin-off, Xylem. Barclays Capital oilfield services analyst, James West, expects US companies like these will add a combined USD 8 to 10bn in shale gas-related equipment and services economic activity over the next year.”

Will the results look like what one seen is GASLAND?

The Tursday evening event at EUROSOLAR turned out to be a five hours affair. After the 90 minutes documentary came the actual meeting of EUROSOLAR with a guest presentation by Green Member of Parliament of Lower Austria, Mrs. Amrita Enzinger who is active in bringing to the public’s attention the dangers inherent in the extraction of the shale gas as experienced in the United States. Lower Austria is not the county in Wyoming that has only 600 residents that was mentioned in the documentary – and that is why the issue deserves a more serious go-through then an agreement with two mayors that might be ill advised in their effort to bring some fast money to their area and forfeiting the future of the area.

The moderator of the evening was energy autarky proponent,businessman Hermann Mentil, former Member of Parliament and  present was also a specialist on energy from Poland.
The meeting was followed by a very interested Q&A period.

============================================================================================

Wiener Zeitung

19. Dezember 2011

Schlagwortsuche

Riesige Schiefergasvorräte machen Polen unabhängig von Russland

Freiheit, Gleichheit, Gas

  • Der Preis dafür könnten hohe Umweltschäden sein.
  • Ist Schiefergas der sogenannte “Game Changer” für Europa?

Wien/Warschau. (wak) Na Zdrowie – auf die Gesundheit! Auf die Unabhängigkeit. In Polen wird derzeit ein Glas nach dem anderen des nationalen Wodkas Ma… weiter

Tiefe Risse in die Erde bohren – aber nur für 80 Jahre

  • Schiefergas würde Erdgasvorkommen in Europa verdrei- oder vervierfachen.

Wien.OMV-Chef Gerhard Roiss will im Weinviertel vorhandene Schiefergas-Vorräte gewinnen, sofern es “ökologisch vertretbar” sei, wie er betont. Sein Fo… weiter

“Es heißt ja schließlich Weinviertel und nicht Gasviertel”

  • In Poysdorf und Herrnbaumgarten sollen 2012 Probebohrungen stattfinden.

Wien. “Als wir zum ersten Mal vom Schiefergasvorkommen in unserer Region hörten, haben wir gegoogelt und diese furchtbaren Infos gefunden, die uns und… weiter

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The third update is of March 14, 2012 – and the game of strip-poker is still on! And we still work on it.

As per the Voice of America:

“The three top Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight race, as results trickle in following primaries Tuesday in two southern U.S. states.

Exit polls and early results in Alabama and Mississippi show Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are in races too close to call.  

The results of the races in those two predominantly conservative states are important to each of the candidates.  

Romney is hoping for victories to propel him forward and prove he can win over very conservative and evangelical Christian Republicans, who have been drawn to his main rival, former U.S. senator Santorum.

Santorum wants to knock Gingrich out of the race to stand as the sole conservative challenger to Romney. 

Gingrich, a former U.S. House speaker, has focused his efforts on the southern vote and is hoping victory on Tuesday will make him the comeback favorite for the nomination.  Otherwise, he could face increased calls to drop out.

Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, is far ahead of the others in the delegate count, winning nearly 40 percent of the 1,144 needed to secure the party’s nomination.  

A new
Washington Post-ABC News poll shows he leads U.S. President Barack Obama in a hypothetical election match-up (49 to 47 percent), while Santorum would be in a competitive race, three points behind (46 to 49 percent) Mr. Obama, if the election were held now. 

The other Republican candidate, U.S. Representative Ron Paul, has not won a nominating contest.  He has single digit support in Alabama and Mississippi.”

———–

At midnight March 13-14, 2012 – it seems that - Rick Santorum has won Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary elections in the states of Alabama and Mississippi, solidifying his status as the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney, the leading candidate in the race.

Santorum narrowly won both staunchly conservative states, with Newt Gingrich finishing second and Romney coming in third.  The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania told supporters that his campaign was “about ordinary folks doing extraordinary things” and that he was “defying the odds” with their help.

He said it was time for conservatives “to pull together” so they can take on Democratic President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Gingrich had hoped to win in at least one of the two states to keep his candidacy viable.  But the ex-U.S. House speaker told supporters at a late-night rally that he will ignore calls to drop out of the race, describing himself as a “visionary” leader who can restore the country.

The twin losses were another blow in Romney’s efforts to win support from very conservative and religious Republicans who have so far backed Santorum.

————

THE WASHINGTON POST EVALUATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES IS THAT FROM NOW ON IT WILL BE ROMNEY TIME:

Early exit polls in Mississippi made it look like Romney was primed for a breakthrough. He held an early lead with blue collar voters, tea party supporters and even evangelicals — the one group that has beguiled him more than any other.

Problem was, it was too good to be true.

Indeed, by the end of the night, reality set in, the numbers in Mississippi shifted, and Romney lost all three groups in both states.

Romney again relied heavily on non-evangelical voters, more moderate voters, wealthy voters and voters who just want someone who can beat President Obama — just as he has in every other state. It’s been good enough in most states; in the South, it’s just not.

And his track record there speaks volumes.

How consistent is Romney? He has taken between 26 percent and 30 percent of the vote in every Southern state dominated by conservative voters — Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

The thing is, while that consistency cost him on Tuesday, it’s likely to benefit him going forward. While the voting is just halfway done, Romney is almost done with his most troubling region, the South, and his most troubling contests, Midwestern caucuses.

Even in the remaining Southern states, things may get better; both Texas and Louisiana feature more concentrated urban populations (a Romney strong suit) than other Southern states, which should help him perform better. (Romney also performed well in Western Mississippi, which is a good omen for his campaign in the state’s neighbor-to-the-west, Louisiana, on March 24.)

Romney’s problems outside the South have been almost completely relegated to Midwestern caucus states with low turnout. In fact, the only primary Romney has lost outside of the South was in Missouri, which was a beauty contest in which Romney didn’t compete.

————

A Bloomberg National Poll of Republicans shows Romney with the support of 37 percent, compared with 27 percent for Santorum. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s backing is 13 percent while U.S. Representative Ron Paul draws 11 percent.

“He’s a businessman and has a better idea of how to run something,” said a Republican poll participant, 68, a clerical worker from Maumee, Ohio. “So many things about our country should be run more like a business, instead of just throwing money at everything.”
There are warning signs in the poll for Romney, should the former Massachusetts governor become his party’s presidential nominee. The extended primary season has driven his unfavorability rating up 10 points, to 48 percent, since September.

His past private equity work cuts both ways: it’s a credential that appeals to Republicans, while a slim majority — 52 percent — of all Americans – view his business practice as harmful to the economy, and 68 percent object to the favored tax rate applied to profits generated by the industry.

We conclude. that in the electorate at large, there is no excitement of business practices of candidate like Romney.
But from the Obama – Biden campaign headquarters we got:

“If the general election were held today, President Obama would lose to Mitt Romney — according to the latest poll fromWashington Post-ABC News.

Now, many other polls put the President on top, but all point to the same reality: We’re looking at a race that will be tighter than you think. And the other side has groups ready to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to tear down President Obama.

We cannot underestimate someone like Romney who has shown he will spend and say anything to win.”

——————————————————————————————————

This is an update of the January 29, 2012 article – this after results from Florida, Nevada, Missouri, Minsesota, and Colorado are in.

Santorum solidly defeated Romney in Minnesota and Missouri, and he narrowly edged the former Massachusetts governor in Colorado, according to state GOP officials.

The victories mark a sharp turnaround for Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator, whose candidacy had been sputtering after he failed to capi­tal­ize on his narrow win in Iowa last month. Santorum’s wins across the Midwest Tuesday could bestow new legitimacy on his insurgent efforts and boost his fundraising in the critical period before next month’s major contests.

Santorum now appears to pose a more serious threat not only to Romney, but also to Gingrich, who had been positioning himself as the logical alternative to Romney.

Santorum staked his own claim on Tuesday. “Conservatism is alive and well,” he told supporters at his election night party in Missouri. “I don’t stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”

For Romney, his poor showing Tuesday raised anew the question that has dogged his candidacy all along: Can the relatively moderate, former Massachusetts governor become an acceptable standard-bearer of a party that is increasingly dominated by evangelical conservatives and tea party activists who have long been skeptical of Romney?

After big wins in Florida and Nevada, Romney had hoped to extend his winning streak as he moved to strengthen his claim to the mantle of presumptive nominee. But in recent days, he was clearly bracing for losses on Tuesday.

Romney enjoyed strong establishment backing in Minnesota, with the vocal support of former governor Tim Pawlenty, yet he trailed not just Santorum but also Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), finishing a distant third.

Addressing supporters in Denver, Romney congratulated Santorum and insisted that he still expects to eventually become the nominee eventually.  Thus – two weeks after Florida – nothing was resolved and the poker game is on in a spit party where one way or another – the minority will be turned into the majority.

================================================

UPDATE 2 comes after non binding caucuses in Maine and a straw poll of the Conservative leadership – finalized Saturday February 11, 2012. These show Mitt Romney in front by a breeze.

Mr. Romney scraped by Mr. Paul by just 194 votes. But fewer than 6,000 votes were cast — about 2 percent of registered Republicans.

Mr. Paul was unbowed, and gave no indication that he would drop out.

“We’re not going away,” he told his supporters.

Although the vote had no substantive meaning in terms of delegates, losing it could have created a political headache for Mr. Romney, the former governor of nearby Massachusetts, and extended a negative storyline that had been building since last week when he lost Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri to Mr. Santorum.

Those losses suddenly increased the symbolic importance of Maine’s all-but-ignored caucuses, and an additional loss on Saturday in his own backyard would have magnified concerns that he cannot seal the deal with voters.

As it was, Mr. Romney also won the annual straw poll of activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday. He took 38 percent of the 3,408 votes cast, compared with 31 percent for Mr. Santorum, 15 percent for Mr. Gingrich and 12 percent for Mr. Paul of Texas, who won the last two years but did not attend this time.

Mr. Romney was among those who had ignored Maine, assuming he had it sewn up, until he arrived Friday night. In the face of tough questioning at a town-hall-style meeting in Portland and the evidence of strong organization by Mr. Paul, Mr. Romney decided to stay over Saturday and campaigned at caucus sites. His campaign added a last-minute jolt of radio and television advertisements.

Mr. Paul made a foray to the state last month and also visited caucus sites on Saturday.

It was not clear how much the late activity helped either candidate because many people had already voted in the rolling caucuses, which began on Jan. 29.

“Romney’s win shows that the pragmatists in the Maine Republican Party really came out in force,” said Sandy Maisel, a political scientist at Colby College in Waterville, Me.

“Remember, this is a state party that has elected Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to the Senate, over and over,” he said.

“While the Tea Party element is strong,” Dr. Maisel added, “those whose principal goal is beating President Obama came to the fore.”

Mr. Romney easily won the low-turnout caucuses four years ago, with Mr. Paul coming in third.

But this time around, Maine offered a rare opportunity for Mr. Paul, a libertarian, to plant his flag.

Although New England Republicans are generally more moderate than the party’s supporters elsewhere, the Maine members are fiercely independent, and the state has become a cauldron of activity for Tea Party supporters, fiscal conservatives and libertarians.

The honestly insignificant numbers of Republicans of Maine, joined by the straw-poll of Conservatives that once backed Santorum then moved to Gingrich – show that the eventual time that it will be a pasodoble  rather then a Texas Waltz is being slowly set in motion.

Maine Caucus Results for the 6000 that showed up to vote as per percentage of the hands up – is »

CANDIDATE PCT.
Romney 39.2%
Paul 35.7
Santorum 17.7
Gingrich 6.2
Others 1.1

=================================================

POLITICS

Buoyed by 3 Victories, Santorum Campaign Sets Ambitious New Goals

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

Rick Santorum is setting sights on home-state challenges to Newt Gingrich in Georgia and Mitt Romney in Michigan after a trifecta of wins on Tuesday.

In Santorum’s Sweep, Sign of G.O.P. Unease With Romney

By MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Rick Santorum’s defeat of Mitt Romney in three states could scramble the dynamics of the race.

NEWS ANALYSIS

Romney Faces Rebels on the Right and Softness in the Middle

By JEFF ZELENY

The persistent competition with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich is forcing Mitt Romney to guard his right flank instead of directing his attention to President Obama.

================================================

The winner in South Carolina is clear – not by 8 votes or 34 but by a stretch of a mile!
Is this a final blow in the rotating front-runner-and-out  game? No, nobody thinks so at the present time. We may be even more confused after Florida we say.

Vice President Joe Biden, speaking to House Democrats at a retreat on the eastern shore of Maryland, took a sharp tone toward the GOP and said Republicans had a “fundamentally different” menu of priorities that the American public is starting to reject.

“I really do think we’re going to win back the House,” Biden said during the House Democrats’ three-day retreat. “I think we will win based purely on the merits of our positions.”

And it’s not just the merits of Democratic positions, either, Biden noted, but the stubborn intransigence of their opponents:

The vice president portrayed congressional Republicans as a stubborn crew unwilling to cooperate with Democrats in Washington to solve the nation’s problems. He called out several by name, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

He said the GOP is solely intent on obstructing action in order to ensure Obama’s defeat this fall.

——————

three days before the Florida primary,  at a moment when Gingrich is badly in need of something to rekindle the momentum he gained in the wake of his South Carolina primary victory, former contender Herman Cain has publicly endorsed Newt Gingrich.

Since then, polls have shown that he is losing ground against former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the State of Florida, even as Gingrich has gained a lead in national surveys.

“I had it in my heart and mind a long time,” Cain said of his endorsement, appearing with Gingrich at a Republican fundraiser. “Speaker Gingrich is a patriot. Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas.”

Gingrich joked, “I had no idea it would be this interesting an evening,” he said last night.

Cain is the latest in a series of popular conservative figures to back the former House speaker, while much of the GOP establishment is marshaling against him.
Among Gingrich’s other recent supporters are former Alaska governor Sarah Palin; his onetime presidential rival, Texas Gov. Rick Perry; and former senator Fred Thompson (Tenn.)

——————–

Candy Crowley of CNN decided to interview this Sunday Ron Paul who just returned to his home in Clute Texas from two days of campaigning in Maine. He was a no show in Florida and preferred to have his organization handle this State for him. Ron Paul concentrates on Caucus States where he can fire up easier his local troops. He knows that in the Republican primary in Florida with Romney and Gingrich pitted against each other it will be the the upward mobile Latinos, that are impressed by success and steady family life, will go for Romney rather then Gingrich, but in the real elections in November it can be expected that the Latino vote will go for Obama – this because of issues like the Dream Act that Obama supports in order to help legalize the status of Latino immigrants that served in the army and served well their host country in which they are not allowed to become citizens. Ron Paul talks to the Occupy Wall Street crowd and hopes that some of this reaches also to the future voters in the primaries, and in the eventual election – the strategy seems to be about the long haul – not really about the immediate skirmish.

——————–

Mitt Romney may be the favorite of the Republican establishment, the Republican politicians, the great majority of the “1%” that funds the campaign, the media that belongs to that 1%, but when adding up the the votes that Newt + Rick + Ron get – Mitt is in the minority. The fact that the Conservatives and the remnants of he Tea alliance flock now to Newt, we think that there is a chance Florida will push out Rick and that after Florida, with only Ron Paul still in the running besides Mitt and Newt, the field will have narrowed to a battle that will then drag on so that the show on the road will last at least to April.

Carlos Gutierez who was the G.W. Bush Secretary of Commerce is campaigning for Mr. Romney among the Latinos of Florida, and Governor Rick Scott is worried that the skirmish among the Republicans may eventually weaken the party in the general elections.

Ron Paul says the Tea Party is an agglomeration of different people with different issues of discontent. He knows he has there a wedge that will stay with him.

Master gambler Sheldon Gary Adelson provided Newt Gingrich with $5 Million for South Carolina and wife Dr. Miriam with another $5 Million for Florida, so entering the post-Florida long haul there must be now a consolidation of the two major camps, with the only cloud hovering on the side – Ron Paul and his Libertarian friends. President Obama’s State of the Union speech was intended to make sure that the disenchanted young people that backed him in 2008 do not look sidewise to Ron Paul as the alternative for change.

—————–

Looking at the results so far Mr. Romney has obtained 25% in Iowa of those that bothered to vote in the Republican primaries, 39% in New Hampshire and 27% in South Carolina. That means that even in the most favorable State to his candidacy stil it was a total of 43% – thus more then his 39% – went to the other three members of the present quartet – with Ron Paul getting 23% and the other two 10% each. Assuming that Ron Paul manages to hang on to a 20% of the vote – what is left is a very heated contest between Messrs. Romney and Gingrich and the possibility that none of the above will reach a clear majority before going to the convention.



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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Sunday Review

New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Thomas Friedman.

In print – Sunday, February 26, 2012 – based on a communication from oil advocate consultant to Saudi Arabia Phil K. Verleger.

During his long and distinguished career, Dr. Verleger has correctly anticipated most of the major structural changes occurring in the oil industry over the last 25 years. For example, in 1986 he became the first economist to fully comprehend and explain the appearance and development of energy commodity markets. Since then, Dr. Verleger has chronicled the evolution of these markets in The Petroleum Economics Monthly. Over a quarter century, he has examined many developments and anticipated the outcomes of a number of market manipulation strategies, including Metalgesellschaft’s disastrous trading program in 1992. More recently, Dr. Verleger was one of the first to examine and again correctly predict the impact of outside investment in commodities.

Dr. Verleger’s investigations have influenced developments in oil markets. His work includes two important academic studies on petroleum markets: Adjusting to Volatile Oil Prices (1994) and Oil Markets in Turmoil (1982). His research in 1998 contributed to Saudi Arabia’s adoption of a new market strategy in March 1999. In April 1999, Dr. Verleger correctly predicted that the Saudi strategy would take crude oil prices to the mid to high 20s.

In August 2004, Dr. Verleger warned that U.S. environmental regulations would cause crude oil prices to rise to $60 per barrel by limiting the availability of key petroleum products. He later wrote that the squeeze on product supply, combined with the absence of central bank concern, could take crude prices to $100. Both events came to pass.

——————————————————


A Good Question.

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

An e-mail came in the other day with a subject line that I couldn’t ignore. It was from the oil economist Phil Verleger, and it read: “Should the United States join OPEC?” That I had to open.
J
Josh Haner/The New York Times - Thomas L. Friedman
Verleger’s basic message was that the knee-jerk debate we’re again having over who is responsible for higher oil prices fundamentally misses huge changes that have taken place in America’s energy output, making us again a major oil and gas producer — and potential exporter — with an interest in reasonably high but stable oil prices.

From one direction, he says, we’re seeing the impact of the ethanol mandate put in place by President George W. Bush, which established fixed quantities of biofuels to be used in gasoline. When this is combined with improved vehicle fuel economy — in July, the auto industry agreed to achieve fleet averages of more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025 — it will inevitably drive down demand for gasoline and create more surplus crude to export. Add to that, says Verleger, “the increase in oil production from offshore fields and unconventional sources in America,” and that exportable U.S. surplus could grow even bigger.

Then, add the recent discoveries of natural gas deposits all over America, which will allow us to substitute gas for coal at power plants and become a natural gas exporter as well. Put it all together, says Verleger, and you can see why America “will want to consider joining with other energy-exporting countries, like those in OPEC, to sustain high oil prices. Such an effort would support domestic oil and gas production and give the U.S. a real competitive advantage over countries forced to pay high prices for imported energy — nations such as China, European Union members, and Japan.”

Indeed, Bloomberg News reported last week that “the U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency. … Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal.” As a result, “the U.S. has reversed a two-decade-long decline in energy independence, increasing the proportion of demand met from domestic sources over the last six years to an estimated 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011.” This transformation could make the U.S. the world’s top energy producer by 2020, raise more tax revenue, free us from worrying about the Middle East, and, if we’re smart, build a bridge to a much cleaner energy future.

All of this is good news, but it will come true at scale only if these oil and gas resources can be extracted in an environmentally sustainable manner. This can be done right, but we need a deal between environmentalists and the oil and gas industry to lock it in — now.

Says Hal Harvey, an independent energy expert: “The oil and gas companies need to decide: Do they want to fight a bloody and painful war of attrition with local communities or take the lead in setting high environmental standards — particularly for “fracking,” the process used to extract all these new natural gas deposits — “and then live up to them.”

Higher environmental standards may cost more, but only incrementally, if at all, and they’ll make the industry and the environment safer.

In the case of natural gas, we need the highest standards for cleanup of land that is despoiled by gas extraction and to prevent leakage of gas either into aquifers or the atmosphere. Yes, “generating a kilowatt-hour’s worth of electricity with a natural gas turbine emits only about half as much CO2 as from a coal plant,” says Harvey, and that’s great. “But one molecule of leaked gas contributes as much to global warming as 25 molecules of burned gas. That means that if the system for the exploration, extraction, compression, piping and burning of natural gas leaks by even 2.5 percent, it is as bad as coal.”

Hence, Harvey’s five rules for natural gas are:
Don’t allow leaky systems;
use gas to phase out coal;
have sound well drilling and casing standards;
don’t pollute the landscape with brackish or toxic water brought up by fracking;
and drill only where it is sensible.

*******    I’d add a sixth rule for crude oil:  ——-   No one likes higher oil prices. —— But — perversely — the high price benefits America as we rapidly become a bigger oil producer and it ensures that investments will continue to flow into energy efficient cars and trucks. If we were smart, we would establish today a floor price for any barrel of crude oil or gallon of gasoline sold or imported into America — and tax anything below it. *********

A stable, sufficiently high floor price serves the environment, our technology investments and our energy productivity. As our producers succeed, we would become increasingly energy self-sufficient, keep a lot more dollars at home for our Treasury, stimulate innovation on renewables and drive down the global oil price that is the sole source sustaining Iran and other petro-dictators.

But all of this depends on an understanding between the oil industry and the environmentalists. If President Obama could pull that off, it would be a huge contribution to America’s security, economy and environment.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Sex and Santorum

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

04 January 12

he race for the Republican presidential nomination has been an edifying spectacle. No, really: we are learning a lot of things that we might not have if it had been a simple Romney coronation. Until he rose in the polls, Ron Paul was seen by many liberals as an almost cuddly figure, a nice antiwar guy with some quirky ideas about gold; we’ve learned a bit since.

Now Rick Santorum, whose frankness gives us an education in what “moral values” is really about, at least for a significant number of people:

Santorum has long opposed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling “that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception” and has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president. As he told CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart in October, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


THE EDITOR AT www.readersupportednews.org/opini… posts an additional tidbit of information that we wonder if it can be attributed to former Governor Mitt Romney:

Beautifying America

Andy Rosenthal, our editorial page editor, notes that Mitt Romney likes to quote from “America the Beautiful”, and tells us something I for one didn’t know:

The lyrics were written in 1894 by the Massachusetts poet Katharine Lee Bates, an ardent feminist and lesbian who was deeply disillusioned by the greed and excess of the Gilded Age.

Her original third verse was an expression of that anger:

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 1st, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


“IF YOUR ACTIONS INSPIRE OTHERS TO DREAM MORE, LEARN MORE, DO MORE & BECOME MORE, YOU ARE A LEADER.”

- John Quincy Adams
——————————–


But America cannot ask for others to apply to transparency rules it does not have itself: The issue of shell companies that acquire rights to extract minerals and oil & gas.

================

“Chesapeake’s effort to hide its involvement isn’t illegal. To the contrary, the company’s maneuvering exemplifies how U.S. corporations routinely can conceal financial and corporate transactions through the use of shell companies. President Barack Obama has called on other nations to improve corporate transparency, but under state laws governing corporate formation in America, privately held businesses aren’t required to disclose the individuals or companies who really own them.”

Why should other government be serious about their own infringement of transparency decency if the US itself does not obey to rules it asks for others to apply to?

Energy Giant Hid Behind Shell Companies in ‘Land Grab.’

By Joshua Schneyer and Brian Grow, Reuters

31 December 11
 www.readersupportednews.org/news-…

ate in the summer of 2010, hundreds of farmers in northern Michigan were fuming.

All had signed leases with local brokers permitting drillers to tap natural gas and oil beneath their land. All were demanding thousands of dollars in bonuses they had been promised in exchange. But none knew for certain whom to go after.

That’s because the company rejecting their leases hadn’t signed them to begin with. In fact, the company issuing the rejections wasn’t much of a business at all. It was a shell company – a paper-only firm with no real operations – called Northern Michigan Exploration LLC.

One jilted land owner, Eric Boyer-Lashuay, called to complain to the broker who had handled his lease. Northern, he recalls saying, is “a shell company … a blank door with no one behind it.”

Today, he puts it this way: “It was all a fake, all a scam.”

Northern has voided hundreds of land deals, and was indeed a facade – a shell company created so that one of America’s largest energy companies could conceal its role in the leasing spree, a Reuters investigation has found. Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s second-largest gas driller, was behind the entire operation.

Chesapeake had created one shell company that set up another, Northern Michigan Exploration. Next, Northern hired brokers who signed leases with residents such as Boyer-Lashuay. And those brokers were under strict orders not to divulge Chesapeake’s role, records reviewed by Reuters show.

In fact, the effort in Michigan was directed from the very top – by Chesapeake’s CEO, Aubrey McClendon. In corporate filings that Chesapeake made public earlier this year – nine months after McClendon’s agents began signing Michigan land leases – McClendon is named as the chief executive officer of Northern, the shell company that voided hundreds of those leases.

Chesapeake’s effort to hide its involvement isn’t illegal. To the contrary, the company’s maneuvering exemplifies how U.S. corporations routinely can conceal financial and corporate transactions through the use of shell companies.

President Barack Obama has called on other nations to improve corporate transparency, but under state laws governing corporate formation in America, privately held businesses aren’t required to disclose the individuals or companies who really own them.

Chesapeake’s own website advises land owners that their “main consideration” before leasing should be “to discover who will ultimately be producing your minerals.” But Chesapeake’s strategy made that extremely difficult for the Michigan land owners.

Legal scholars say the operation serves as an intriguing test case of the use of shell companies.

The tactics “raise moral and ethical questions about how entities can be used,” says Joshua Fershee, a contract law professor at the University of North Dakota.

Others, including Chesapeake, defend the need to use shell companies and front companies – contractors with local ties who do business on behalf of a larger corporation. John Lowe, a professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University, calls it “business as usual.”

“Shells aren’t just a device to pull the wool over land owners’ eyes,” Lowe says. “You have to weigh some of the unfortunate cases against the fact that these companies can facilitate doing business, making it easier and probably cheaper to obtain leases. If I were a regulator, I’m not sure I’d change anything or try to limit the use of shells.”

At least one lawmaker, Rep. Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, says he will be “arguing for some intervention” to control the use of shell companies in such deals.

“Private property owners who enter into these transactions with good faith shouldn’t be getting duped by a front company,” says Grijalva, a member of the House Committee for Natural Resources. “It’s deception and you can’t call it anything else. It’s a good example where the intervention of government to require disclosure and binding contracts is needed.”

Intent to Renege?

The effort to secure leasing rights in Michigan was part of Chesapeake’s national “land grab,” a term the company has used in its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

But Chesapeake’s Michigan land rush quickly ended. In court this month, lawyers for land owners alleged that lease agreements were voided after Chesapeake learned a well it drilled in the state had come up dry.

Bonuses promised to land owners went unpaid, according to court documents submitted by lawyers for the land owners. Northern Michigan Exploration, the Chesapeake-affiliated shell company, rejected more than 97 percent of the leases its Michigan agents had signed with farmers and other land owners, the documents allege.

More than 800 Michigan land owners – many of them elderly farmers – had their leases terminated by Northern, Reuters found.

As a consequence, owners missed opportunities to lease their land to other oil firms. At least 115 have sued, alleging that Chesapeake breached their contracts and defrauded them. On average, they each had been expecting $95,000 in bonuses, those lawsuits show.

The near-blanket cancellation of the contracts raises the question of whether Chesapeake ever intended to pay if it failed to find oil or gas immediately, says Mark Gergen, a contract law professor at the University of California-Berkeley law school.

“It suggests they might have had a strategy going in of not honoring their agreements,” he says. “The shells would have facilitated that” because Chesapeake could blame the shells for the cancellations, suffering no damage to its reputation.

Chesapeake says it acted properly. It says some land owners were paid bonuses. It also disputes “canceling” any Michigan contracts; rather, some contracts were “rejected” because property titles didn’t pass muster, its corporate counsel says.

In written responses, Chesapeake says it sometimes uses shell companies to “keep a low profile” and avoid tipping off competitors and “speculators” about its land-leasing and drilling efforts. Such tactics are common in real estate, scholars say.

But now, Chesapeake also is using shells as a legal defense to shield itself against land-owner lawsuits. The energy giant has said in court that it was Northern Michigan Exploration, not Chesapeake, that canceled the leases.

If land owners prove that they should have been paid, at issue is who will be held accountable: Chesapeake, a corporation with $37 billion in assets, or Northern, a shell company with no publicly documented assets.

“If Chesapeake knew from the start there was a good chance it would renege on leases and used (Northern) to avoid liability, that is improper,” says North Dakota law professor Fershee.

The burden now rests with lawyers for the land owners to prove that – to not only demonstrate that Chesapeake was directing the shell companies but also to show that Chesapeake used the shells to commit fraud.

Staying Hidden

To understand the role shell companies play in Chesapeake’s business, Reuters reviewed hundreds of pages of lease agreements, rejection letters and contracts, and more than a thousand pages of court records.

Reporters also interviewed more than three dozen land owners, lawyers and “landmen,” those who scout for areas rich with oil and gas and strike deals with land owners.

The northern part of Michigan has a long history of smalltime drilling. But the three-month land-leasing frenzy here last year was driven by speculation that the state’s Collingwood Shale area might hold large amounts of oil and natural gas.

In recent years, shale drilling has created the biggest grab for resources in the U.S. since the California Gold Rush. Thousands of so-called “shaleonaires” have grown rich by leasing their land and collecting royalties from gushers.

Chesapeake is the single biggest player in that rush, employing about 4,500 landmen. Its CEO, McClendon, started his career as an oil landman, as did former President George W. Bush.

Chesapeake says it has paid more than $9 billion for land leases. Its holdings include about 15 million acres in at least 23 states – a drilling area nearly the size of Ireland. Since 2008, Chesapeake has raised $13 billion by selling off a portion of those leases to energy firms as far away as China and Australia.

The business is risky. Chesapeake often slips into a shale play early, committing hundreds of millions of dollars before it knows whether wells in the area will be gushers or dry holes.

Risky Profile

The company’s filings show it spent $6.95 billion acquiring “unproved” properties last year, more than double what it spent the previous year.

Such huge spending, coupled with U.S. natural-gas prices at 27-month lows, underscores Chesapeake’s aggressive financial risk profile, according to Standard & Poor’s. It rates Chesapeake’s corporate debt BB+, a category considered junk status.

Some analysts balk at the difficulty of following the company’s land transactions, including deals made through shell companies. The use of shells can make the moves hard to trace in financial statements.

In October, Reuters asked Chesapeake about its land-leasing in Michigan. In a written response, Chesapeake said then that it had spent about $400 million to acquire leases there, a figure it has neither disclosed nor is required to disclose in SEC filings. Company spokesman Michael Kehs declined to answer other questions submitted this month.

Left unanswered: Whether shell companies affiliated with Chesapeake have any assets.

“There are red flags when it comes to Chesapeake’s transparency, convoluted ownership of shell entities and transactions shareholders can’t see,” says Phil Weiss, an equities analyst with Argus in New York, who downgraded the firm’s shares to ‘sell’ on November 16. “I’d never know what happened in Michigan by looking at Chesapeake’s filings.”

Shell of a Shell

Chesapeake’s land strategy was pieced together in part from documents that emerged in the Michigan lawsuits. Since early in the legal fight, Chesapeake has denied it conducted business in Michigan. It also denied that Northern, the shell company that voided leases en masse, was its “wholly owned subsidiary.”

For months, plaintiffs’ lawyers couldn’t figure out how Chesapeake could seemingly deny direct control of Northern. The answer lies behind the corporate veil of shell companies.

Chesapeake doesn’t directly own Northern; rather, Northern was incorporated by another shell company – one that Chesapeake owns and had created a year earlier. That firm, LA Land Acquisition, is the beginning of a complicated chain of shells and front companies – local contractors – operating on Chesapeake’s behalf:

* In April 2009, Chesapeake begat LA Land Acquisition Corp., a Delaware entity with no discernible assets.

* A year later, in April 2010, LA Land formed Northern Michigan Exploration, another shell company with no known assets.

* Northern subsequently hired a local land-lease company, O.I.L. Niagaran.

* O.I.L. then hired another local company, Western Land. Both O.I.L. and Western negotiated with land owners here.

The firms agreed not to disclose the energy giant’s role to land owners, according to a May 2010 contract between Chesapeake and O.I.L. and other records reviewed by Reuters.

In incorporation papers filed in Michigan, Northern’s address is listed as the office of a law firm in Lansing. John Pirich, a Lansing lawyer listed in state records as the representative of Northern, declined comment.

The connection between Chesapeake, LA Land and Northern appears in a February 8 SEC filing, made public five months after Michigan land owners first filed suit. It shows that LA Land, which lists McClendon as a director, is the “sole member” or owner of Northern, which lists McClendon as its CEO.

Chesapeake didn’t say why it used multiple intermediaries in Michigan. Lawyers say layers of shell and front companies can be used to cap liability when the companies behind the shells face lawsuits.

“The shells can complicate and delay things,” says Gergen, the Berkeley law professor. “Chesapeake is probably betting that plaintiffs won’t have sufficient resources or staying power to collect.”

Drilling Race

Last year, Chesapeake was competing for land in Michigan with the Canadian driller EnCana. In May 2010, EnCana announced that it had already leased 250,000 acres in the state.

Sue Brown, who owns 370 acres near Cheboygan, Mich., was bombarded with offers. “Landmen swooped in on this area like hornets out of hell,” Brown says. “They’d be waiting in my driveway, completely paranoid that I was going to sign with somebody else.”

That month, she and her husband were among the earliest farmers to sign a lease with a local broker working on behalf of Chesapeake. They received a $500-per-acre bonus.

Brown’s contract featured a non-disclosure clause, forbidding her from revealing her offer to neighbors. She had no idea Chesapeake was behind it. The lease has been honored, she says.

As the frenzy intensified in June 2010, some Michigan bonuses rose to $3,000 an acre, up 200-fold from before the boom. Chesapeake’s decision to remain hidden may have been a legitimate attempt to keep prices from going even higher, some experts say.

“It’s common to take leases through a shell corporation or through a landman company,” says Lowe, the professor of energy law at SMU’s Dedman Law School in Dallas. “If you’re a farmer or a rancher and you see a big, deep-pocketed oil company pull up in your driveway, then your price goes up.”

‘Dry Hole’, Abrupt Shift

After prices surged in Michigan, EnCana decided in July 2010 to pare back its leasing effort, a company spokesman says. According to allegations in several lawsuits against Chesapeake, CEO McClendon looked to take advantage of the opening.

He began to aggressively renegotiate or delay the completion of his own Michigan deals, the lawsuits allege.

The lawsuits by Michigan land owners also suggest a specific reason why Chesapeake’s interest cooled: Through an affiliate, Chesapeake drilled an exploratory well in Michigan last July that came up dry. Chesapeake has not publicly disclosed the drilling results and declined to comment on the matter. But in the weeks after the exploratory well was drilled, Chesapeake’s shell-within-a-shell – Northern – began rejecting leases en masse, letters sent to land owners show.

In some cases, Northern claimed that land owners missed a signing deadline, even though landmen had told them when to sign. Leslie and Sarah Schrier, a farming couple in their 80s who live near Brutus, Mich., had their lease voided weeks after a landman and a notary public drove to their farm to watch them sign ahead of the deadline, they say.

Also affected was John O’Hair, a former judge and chief county prosecutor in Detroit. He leased his 140-acre family farm in Antrim County, Mich., to O.I.L. in a contract that offered an $84,000 signing bonus. If successful wells were drilled, the O’Hairs would receive 12.5 percent royalties.

O’Hair had leased the same land to O.I.L. a few years earlier without a hitch. This time, months passed and no bonus check arrived.

O’Hair complained to O.I.L.’s president, Dwain Provins. The response: O.I.L. was working for another firm, whose name and role were secret, O’Hair recalls. That firm had voided the lease, he was told, because one of O’Hair’s in-laws appeared to own a stake in his property. Provins declined comment.

“It was a completely bogus claim,” says O’Hair, 82. “I’d leased the land previously to O.I.L. with no issues.”

More months passed before O’Hair learned the truth from lawyers he had hired: O.I.L. was doing the bidding of Northern and Chesapeake.

By August 10, 2010, transcripts from court hearings show, at least one of Chesapeake’s middlemen in Michigan seemed regretful that he had entered into business with the company.

The broker, David W. McGuire of O.I.L. Niagaran, voiced concern about Chesapeake’s directives, court records indicate. He told McClendon that Chesapeake was asking O.I.L. to default on contracts that Chesapeake never intended to pay, according to the court records.

McGuire told McClendon that he had “never been put in a position like this,” court records show. His comments were recounted in court this month by lawyers representing land owners.

McGuire did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

Letters Connect Shell, Cheaspeake

By mid-August, Northern began sending out rejection letters to land owners. Many were signed by the man listed as Northern’s “senior landman,” David W. Bolton. He also was a landman for Chesapeake itself. In an email exchange with local brokers, he used the address dave.bolton@chk.com- a Chesapeake address. He’s also on a 2010 list of Chesapeake employees.

Bolton did not respond to email or phone messages requesting comment.

The lease-termination letters from Northern were a giant ruse, says Kevin Koonce, a landman who worked for a Chesapeake contractor in Michigan.

Koonce says he worked in Michigan from September to November 2010. He wasn’t there to lease land. By the time he arrived, Koonce says, Chesapeake’s strategy was to abandon leases it had already signed.

“Our instructions were to flunk the title if there was a word misspelled,” Koonce says. He says he decided to speak publicly about the situation because he objected to the approach.

Emails reviewed by Reuters show Koonce’s firm was fired in December 2010 for not signing any land owners to drilling leases in another state. He has filed an affidavit on behalf of Michigan land owners who are seeking to collect on their leases.

Koonce says his instructions to flunk leases came from a supervisor at another broker working for Chesapeake in Michigan. Koonce says he and eight other brokers participated in a conference call on October 27, 2010, with the supervisor. During the call, he says, they were ordered to speed up the rate of lease cancellations.

Neither the supervisor nor the other brokers on the call responded to emails requesting comment, and Chesapeake declined to comment on Koonce or his allegations.

One land owner whose lease was rejected was Mildred Lutz, a 93-year-old widow who lives near Alanson, Mich. She says she was told her $97,000 bonus wouldn’t be paid because her late husband didn’t sign the lease and the family trust, which owned the land, is in both her name and her husband’s. Never mind that the landman drafted the lease in July 2010 – a month after her husband’s death.

“He knew my husband had passed away and I would be the sole owner of my property,” Lutz says. Chesapeake’s lawyers have said the Lutz lease had clear formatting and title flaws.

In its letters to land owners, Northern offered several reasons for voiding leases: disputes over property ownership; improper formatting of leases; and claims that properties fall outside a geographic target area.

In some cases, Northern claimed that land owners had missed a signing deadline, even though they signed leases at a time and place specified by the company’s leasing agents.

In scores of other letters, Northern says leases were void because of “unsubordinated” mortgages on property. That means a property – like the approximately 70 percent of U.S. real estate that is mortgaged – isn’t owned free-and-clear.

In a written statement, Chesapeake general counsel Henry Hood says a mortgage is a valid title defect “if the mortgage pre-dates the lease and is not expressly subject to and subordinate to the lease.” In previous filings with the SEC, Chesapeake said it generally scrutinized titles late in the process, before drilling, and not before paying out bonuses.

Chesapeake’s main competitor in Michigan, EnCana, told Reuters that it honored the vast majority of leases it signed in the state and has faced no lawsuits that allege it reneged on any leases there.

EnCana “very rarely” voids any lease it has signed, spokesman Alan Boras says.

Low Prices, Good Deals

As Northern continued to reject leases, another company emerged in late October and went on a Michigan land-buying spree.

The hundreds of rejected leases had depressed land prices from the summertime high, and a company called Crystal Lake Resources became one of the top buyers of public land at a state auction on October 26, 2010.

The state land up for auction was also in the Collingwood Shale formation, not far from the land that Northern no longer wanted to lease from private land owners.

According to records from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Crystal Lake bought drilling rights on 30,000 acres for $20.97 an acre. That’s a 99 percent discount on the price promised to some land owners whose leases were canceled by Northern.

Incorporation records show Crystal Lake was formed on October 25, 2010, a day before the public auction. Its Lansing address is the same as Northern’s, the Chesapeake shell company that had been canceling private leases.

In a response to one Michigan lawsuit, Crystal Lake Resources is identified as a lease buyer for Northern.

In the months since its Michigan buys, Crystal Lake has also been busy signing land leases in at least one North Dakota county.

There, in Hettinger County, clerk Sylvia Gion says Crystal Lake’s leases have been assigned to one company: Chesapeake.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 31st, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Unexpected OCTOBER HALLOWEEN CANCELING WEATHER ATTACK ON THE US EAST COAST: According to state governments and utilities, at least three million customers lost power along New England in the US.. More than 400,000 customers lost power across New York State at the storm’s peak, and most remained without electricity at midday Sunday, with the greatest damage in Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Orange Counties. More damage in New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

People trudging through stores in search of sold-out supplies had little time to meditate on CLIMATE CHANGE . They talked more about how recent storms — the ice storm of 2008 in New Hampshire and Tropical Storm Irene in New Jersey — had prompted them to buy generators and left them better prepared.

But scholars began marshaling their arguments to remind people that single storms, no matter how dramatic, say little about overall climate patterns.

Robert Stavin, an economist at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, said a surprise winter storm no more disproved climate change than a hot day in August proved it.

But larger patterns of extreme storms and precipitation, even if accompanied by cold snaps, support the theory of global warming, he and several climate researchers said, because warming oceans are sending more moisture into the air.

Doubters of above – from among conventional economists or out of their water scientists, not just oil industry paid-for lobbyists, will just continue to make it harder for even a good US President to take the needed steps to change the focus of research policy in order to move to a post-fossil fuels future.

The storm struck trees of all ages and sizes in New York City’s Central Park: oaks and elms outside the boathouse, birches and dogwoods near Belvedere Castle, magnolias and mulberries beside the obelisk. The damage was spread across about half of Central Park’s 840 acres, making it the worst devastation that Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, had seen in his 27 years there.

In all, as many as 1,000 of the park’s trees may be lost to the freak October snowstorm; in contrast, Tropical Storm Irene — which work crews only recently finished cleaning up after — cost the park 125 trees. “It’s like a bomb blew off,” Mr. Blonsky said, as he conducted a site survey of the park on Sunday. He looked out his car window at a 70-foot oak tree, near the park’s southeast entrance. Only a jagged stump remained. “Fall colors were just starting to kick in,” he said.

Even the most durable trees struggled to cope. The broad, rough leaves of a London plane tree, Mr. Calvanese said, made it particularly vulnerable to snow accumulation and, consequently, branch fractures. “It’s a resilient tree,” Mr. Calvanese said, sounding like a coach defending his players after a difficult loss. “They really do hold up well.”

The storm may be a death knell for apple-picking season at Hager Brothers’ small orchard in Shelburne Falls, Mass.

With temperatures expected in the teens, “that’ll probably be the end of what we can pick off our trees,” said Bethany Miles, who was working at the orchard store.

The wedding of Christine and Ryan Hubbard on Saturday night in Worcester — with pumpkins and flowers in warm, deep colors — was aiming for a crisp autumn look but ended up with an aesthetic that was more frigid slush.

“If somebody looks at our wedding pictures, they’re going to think that we got married in December,” Ms. Hubbard said.

The New York Times

For further details of actual damage please look at -

Cleaning Up After Nature Plays a Trick, by ANNE BARNARD and SARAH MASLIN NIR, 

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